Monday, May 4, 2015

Pear Salad

Because it's autumn here and this was just the thing for a lovely, sunny, bright and breezy day :)

Ingredients (per person)

A large double handful of baby spinach leaves, torn
1 beurre bosc pear (or one with similar soft texture), cubed
50g of soft feta (more or less), crumbled
1T pecans, roughly crushed
1T black cherry vinegar*
1 med-large strawberry
Salt and pepper to taste


Finely chop or puree strawberry with vinegar. Let steep. Meanwhile, combine all other ingredients and gently toss. Pour over vinegar, season and consume :)


* Good quality balsamic vinegar should be a passable substitute for black cherry vinegar.
Try walnuts instead of pecans, apples instead of pears, or parmesan instead of feta.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Things I Really Need To Bake

Blame it on pregnancy cravings, or the fact that I've been too sick to do much cooking in the last 5 months, or a stress-induced desire for comfort food, or the search for procrastination, or anything else you like, but the fact of the matter is the last few weeks have been one giant, continuing saga of OHMYGOSH THIS THING I MUST BAKE. 

Obviously, the whole being-sick-and-exhausted-because-growing-new-minion thing has put a damper on my abilities to actually DO any of this cooking, and the list of things I desire to make is growing to such proportions that I'm going to start forgetting things if I don't write them down soon. Which, on the one hand, so what, but on the other: LIST-MAKING EXCUSE FOR THE WIN!! I love me a good list after all.

And because I'm a) a sharing-and-caring kind of person, and b) am attempting to post more regularly on The Blog, you get to share the list too. Ha. If you do end up making anything off the list, I'd love to know how it goes :) But without further ado:

Amy's List Of Things I Really Need To Bake

1) A really good Laos curry. Or Thai, at a pinch. But it has to be GOOD. After visiting Laos/Thailand with school in 2013, I've fallen in love with good, proper, authentic southeast Asian cooking, but my tolerance for mediocrity in this food genre is low, and finding the good stuff near where I live seems nigh impossible. So: I need to learn to cook it myself.

 2) Good spring rolls. Ditto the above.

 3) Sweet potato and feta frittata, which I used to make all the time and is the best lunch snack ever, but which I literally have not made in yeeeeears.

 4) Cream potato bake, which is in the same category as (3) but is also, like, the ultimate comfort food. (I mean c'mon, it's potatoes, cream and cheese with a bit of spice. How is this NOT the ultimate comfort food?)

 5) Chocolate peppermint creams, because Mint Slices are my favourite biscuits* in the whole entire world, so a homemade version? OM NOM NOM. * Cookies, for those from America ;)

 6) Blood orange oil brownies, because Liana Brooks kept mentioning them on twitter :P

 7) Scones, preferably of the pumpkin or cheese variety. Maybe these ones from Smitten Kitchen (which, yes, American terminology says biscuits :P).

 8) Jam doughnuts, preferably these ones.

 9) Homemade ice cream. Any variety, I'm not too fussed. The only thing holding me off here is a present lack of freezer space.

 10) Bread rolls, or scrolls, or a pull-apart, or all of the above. Just, fresh, homemade, devourable bread.

 And in addition to all that, at some point this week or next I need to do a practice cake. Little sister's birthday is coming up and she has requested a pear and white chocolate mud cake, for which recipes apparently don't exist :P Which is fine, I like making up my own just fine, but given it's a Big Birthday I do need to do a test run first. In terrible news, it will also necessitate making a batch of salted caramel buttercream, which OH NOES WORLD IS ENDING, clearly, because you guys? The caramel recipe I use seriously tastes like the inside of Fantales lollies, for those of you who've ever eaten such things. It is glorious; truly, truly glorious.

 So. That's my to-bake list. If I can summon up some energy at some point, I'll make said items and post pictures and recipes and trivia when I do. But for now, I'm going to go find something quick and easy to eat for lunch, before my blood sugar levels drop to zero :P :D


Saturday, September 22, 2012

The ultimate (kitchen) goal of a busy mom is to eat healthy, delicious meals that are prepared on a sane schedule and don't require you to take out a bank loan to pay for groceries. This is, for many of us, a pipe dream. Food isn't cheap and gourmet cooking takes effort, not to mention well-trained taste buds. Not every child will cheer for Brussel sprouts. But it can be done.

Or, at least, that's my theory.

My goal for the month of October is to plan out a well-balanced, nutritious menu with old favorites, new foods, meals that can mostly be made ahead, and dinners that can become tomorrow's bento box lunch with very little effort. Really, what I want is Lazy Gourmet on a Rice And Beans Budget.

Impossible? You never know until you try.

The first step is creating a realistic menu. I have a hectic week. Sunday is church, Tuesday is afternoon gymnastics, Wednesday is speech, Friday is equestrian lessons. Baking something for an hour so we can eat dinner means we eat really late, or we're home at least an hour before dinner. I don't always have that luxury. So I need foods that are crock-pot and microwave friendly. Something I can cook in under 15 minutes of actual heating or reheating time.

The other thing I want out of my menu is a well-balanced diet. My family eats meat, but they don't like soups or fish. Pasta dishes are a hard sell around here. I have one kid that hates sauces in all forms and can't stand tomatoes. Things like lasagna and spaghetti get pushed around the plate and left uneaten. To handle my picky eaters I'm planning dinner in five categories: beef, chicken, pasta, vegetarian, and breakfast. Yes, pasta is a hard sell, but it needs to be on the plate if I ever want my kids to learn to love pasta!

Breakfast will be a choice of muffins, cereal with milk, or oatmeal. It's not a wide selection, but breakfast runs from 5am when I get up to 8am when the babies get up and I am not cooking a special meal for everyone. Baking muffins once a week is doable, eggs and sausage every morning cuts into my writing time.

Lunch will be sandwiches most days, but I want to send bento lunches at least twice a week. These are cute, fun, and a little bit healthier than PBJ with a juice box. They also take more planning, and that's why they won't be a daily event.

Now let's discuss the budget... $1.50 per meal per person, or $22.50/day for the family. For two weeks I want the grocery bill to come in around $300 + paper goods (diapers, dog food, ect). This isn't entirely impossible, but it means cutting out a lot of waste. Pre-cut skinless boneless chicken breast is several dollars more than the skin and bone variety.

I'm going to run off and make a menu, I'll report back here on how this experiment goes.

- Liana

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Quick Honey-Wheat Bread

2 cups water
2 tablespoons yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups wheat flour
4 cups bread flour
1/4 cup honey

Heat the water so it's warm to the touch but not too warm (2 minutes in the microwave and let sit for five minutes while you chase a screaming kid).

Stir the sugar into the water to dissolve. Add the yeast, stir again. Let it sit for five minutes until frothy.

Add the oil. Stir.

Add the wheat flour. Stir.

Add two cups of bread flour and the honey. Stir.

Add the salt. Stir.

Add the last two cups of bread flour. Knead for 3-5 minutes.

Cover loosely and let the dough double in size, about 1 hour in normal conditions. It will take longer if your house is cold.

Grease the inside of your loaf pan (this makes one large loaf of bread or two smaller ones).

Knead the dough for another 3-5 minutes. Please the dough in the loaf pan and let it rise until it's an inch over the top.

Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake the bread for 30-35 minutes.

Total working time... 20 minutes.
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