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Warm spinach salad with mushrooms

September 2, 2013

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Before you gasp in horror at the thought that Simone would actually eat a warm spinach salad with mushrooms, let me explain a few things. She will actually eat many of the ingredients in this salad…just separately. Which isn’t so bad, because it still means one prep for dinner and we are all (more or less) happy. Giselle is funny of course, because she’ll eat whatever you put in front of her, but she has her favourite parts of this salad which naturally differ from her sister. Sigh…siblings.

Simone eats: mushrooms, quinoa.

Giselle eats: mushrooms, feta, spinach, quinoa

Mommy & Daddy eat: everything.

I came up with this salad after eating one similar to it at Diner No. 1 in Steveston. It’s my favourite item on the menu so I had to figure out a way to recreate it at home. 🙂  I drizzle a creamy balsamic dressing on top that I make myself…it’s so damn good!

Warm Spinach Salad with Mushrooms

No specific portions required here…just play with the portions at your will.

Bag of fresh baby spinach

Large box of mushrooms

White onion

Grape tomatoes

Feta cheese

Quinoa (1 cup uncooked)

Cook the quinoa and set aside. Fry the mushrooms and onion in oil and butter and take in that delicious smell. Getting hungry yet? Rinse and dry baby spinach. Crumble feta and set aside. Slice tomatoes and set aside.

Layer the quinoa on the bottom of your bowl. Add spinach on top. Add tomatoes and feta, then the warm mushrooms and onion on top.

Dressing

Mix together equal portions of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and add roughly 1/2 tsp of dijon mustard. Add some salt & pepper. Drizzle over salad and serve.

Be sure to tell me how this turned out for you and if you’re as crazy in love with it as I am!

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Quinoa just got better

June 26, 2013

Those delicious quinoa patties I wrote about a few weeks ago were another home run for us when I added steamed kale instead of mushrooms. Here are the photos. If you make this recipe or something similar please let me know what variation you go with – it’s always nice to add a few options.

These were served with sliced avocado and chipotle mayo. Yum!

quiona with kale

quina with kale

Quinoa “burgers”

May 31, 2013

Now here’s something new and exciting I’ve never tried before. I came across the original recipe on either Facebook or Pinterest (I can’t remember these things let along the names of my children so don’t be too hard on me here). The original recipe calls for steamed kale, but I had served up all our kale a few nights ago to Simone who shared the entire batch with a friend. I mean ALL OF IT. Then proceeded to eat nearly all the cauliflower. Some things never seize to amaze me.

Anyway, I had a bag of mushrooms in the fridge that if kept any longer, they were probably going to walk out of there so I thought I’d chop them up and fry them (yum) and add those to the quinoa instead of kale. The end results – ridiculously delicious! This was a dish enjoyed more by the grownups than the kids, but it could just be one of those things they eventually grow into (right? right?).

I think you could easily replace the mushrooms with spinach, or any other veg that may help bind the goods together.

quinoa mushroom burgers

quinoa mushroom burgers

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Quinoa Burgers

1 cup uncooked quinoa (boiled then drained just as you would pasta)

1 cup breadcrumbs

1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan

4-6 cups mushrooms (chopped and fried with some onion and garlic powder)

4 eggs, beaten

S&P, olive oil

Directions

Cook the quinoa then set aside. Fry the mushrooms in butter & oil (we use Rice Bran Oil) and set aside. In a large bowl beat the eggs then add all the ingredients except the olive oil. Stir well, then form patties and place on wax paper. The above portions created 13 patties for me. Transfer to fridge for an hour or so (if you have the time – which I rarely do) so they can keep their shape better.

When you are ready to cook them, heat oil on high heat on a stove-top griddle and add patties. Remove from heat once they are a nice light to medium brown colour on the outside.

I served mine with sliced avocado (which Giselle ate off our plates, of course) and spicy chipotle mayo. You could also use Frank’s Hot Sauce or Salsa.

Yum! Give them a try and let me know how they turn out and what, if any, modifications you make.

Roasted Chickpeas (watch them fight over it)

March 20, 2013

A few weeks ago, hubs and I went out for a dinner date. We went to Campagnolo (it was divine) and I had my first taste of roasted chickpeas (even more divine). This was one of the best appetizers I’ve ever tasted, and so of course, me being me, I had to try and re-create the taste I’ve been longing for.

Tonight I thought I’d make that attempt. I ended up with a completely different recipe than Campagnolo’s, but hell, this was good too! And not only that, Simone and Giselle literally fought over the bowl of chickpeas when I put them on the table. Just to set the scene: Simone is now 5.5 yrs old, Giselle is 1.5 yrs old. For those of you who know my kids, it won’t surprise you to hear that Giselle won. Actually, they were both winners with their own bowls.

Andrea’s Roast Chickpeas

You can use a can of chickpeas (drained & rinsed) or soak your own over night – whatever you prefer.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Allow the chickpeas to dry on a towel while the oven pre-heats. I then lay them on my clay bake; but if you don’t have that, use a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Roast the chickpeas for 45-60 minutes. You want them darkened, but not burnt. Crispy and not chewy.

Remove from oven and toss in a bowl with salt, garlic powder, cumin, and smoked paprika (sorry, no quantities to provide you here – just sprinkle to your liking). To be honest, you can use whatever spices you like – these are what appealed to me after 30 seconds of Pinterest research.  😉

I highly recommend you check out Campagnolo’s chickpeas in person, but if that doesn’t work, have a look at their recipe and try this at home too.

Roasted Chickpeas right out of the oven:

 

 

Roasted Chickpeas

Roasted Chickpeas in salad:

Roasted chickpeas in salad

Roasted chickpeas in salad

 

Butternut Squash Soup

October 20, 2012

I just can’t get enough of the fall vegetables this year. Pumpkin, butternut squash, and spaghetti squash are my favourite. I made this soup last week and Giselle went crazy for it. Actually, we all did except Simone, and the reason she didn’t like it was because I put water chestnuts in it so the texture was a touch too “grainy” for her. Bloody hell, will the pickiness EVER end…?

Butternut Squash Soup

1 medium butternut squash

1 can water chestnuts (drained)

1 large onion (or 2 small shallots)

1 carrot

4 stalks celery

1/4 cup butter

4 cups chicken broth

2 (or more) cloves garlic

1/4 (roughly) milk or cream

S&P

Directions:

I always roast my butternut squash ahead: cut in half and place on a baking tray and cook for roughly 30-45 mins at 350 degrees (until soft). If you want to speed things up, you can always microwave the squash for 10 mins or so, then transfer to oven for final roasting. Let the squash cool after removing from the oven, then scoop out all the inside, discarding any seeds in the centre.

Soften the remaining veggies (carrots, onion, celery) in butter in a large pot on med-high heat. Once soft, add the squash, water chestnuts, chicken broth, garlic, and S&P. Let the soup boil for 20 minutes, then use a hand mixer to puree.

I transfer my soup to a crock pot at this point and leave it on “keep warm” until we’re ready to eat. About 10 or 20 mins before serving I pour roughly 1/4 cup of milk into the soup.

Now take a bow, pat yourself on the back, and serve yourself the largest bowl since you may have to fight off others for leftovers (ok, I have to fight off the baby, but that’s really not much of a fair fight…)

Spaghetti Squash Pancakes

October 20, 2012

My new fall obsession. Who says fall veggies are blah? I love them, and believe it or not, so do my kids.

Of course they don’t love the same things at the same time, because that would be making my life way too easy. Simone loves these spaghetti squash pancakes and asks for them over potato pancakes. Giselle on the other hand loves my butternut squash soup and can easy eat two bowls at lunch or dinner.

Either way, they’re both eating well (ok, well enough) and I’m not killing myself making these dishes so we’re all happy.

Spaghetti Squash Pancakes

1 medium spaghetti squash

1-2 tbsp brown sugar

pinch salt

1-2 eggs (beaten)

2-4 tbsp flour

cooking oil (Rice Bran Oil is great)

Directions:

Quarter or half the squash and roast for 30 -40 mins at 350 degrees. After roasting and when the squash is soft to touch with a fork, scoop out the seeds from the centre, then drizzle with oil (I use Rice Bran Oil), the brown sugar, and sprinkle with salt. Place back in oven for 10-15 mins until squash is very soft.

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Remove and let cool, then scoop out all the spaghetti squash into a bowl.

Mix the squash with the eggs and flour until you have “batter-like” consistency. Sorry, realize that’s vague but it’s the best description I can provide. It should be smooth and runny, but thick enough to form a lumpy blog on the pan when you fry them.

In a high-sided pan, heat oil on med-high heat. Spoon the batter in and cook about 2-3 mins on each side. Remove and place on paper towel to absorb the remaining oil.

Simone eats these plain, but I love having them with some Frank’s Hot Sauce, and our German Au Pair loves having them with apple sauce. Either way, can’t go wrong! Enjoy the fall veggies.

So good it hurts (lemon cake)

August 8, 2012

Just when I thought I had the perfect lemon cake recipe, I found this recipe on Pinterest not too long ago and it’s been a life-changer ever since. Ok, perhaps that’s a little dramatic, but now when I make lemon cake this is my ONLY “go-to” recipe. I sprinkle some icing sugar on top before serving it and in the summer add a few fresh seasonal berries.

Naturally, Simone eats all but the berries.  😦

Lemon Cake

Cake:

3 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup butter (softened)

2 cups sugar (gasp!)

4 large eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla (my modification to the original recipe)

1 cup milk

Finely grated rind of 2 large lemons (I grate it then chop in tiny pieces)

Glaze:

2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from those 2 lemons you used for the rind)

1/3 cup sugar

note: the original recipe calls for more sugar and less lemon juice, but I switched those two amounts as I prefer a stronger lemon-y glaze to a sugar-y one.

Lemon Cake freshly grated lemon rind

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a bundt pan.

Sift (or whisk) together flour, baking powder, and salt, then set aside.

In a mixer, beat butter together with sugar and vanilla, then add eggs one at a time. Add finely grated and chopped lemon rind. Once these ingredients are well mixed, slowly add the dry ingredients along with the milk. Mix everything well together.

Pour batter into greased bundt pan. Bake for 45 minutes, then insert a toothpick to see if it’s done. If it’s not yet done, continue baking at 2 minute intervals until it’s complete. The top of the cake will have some nice crevasses in it.

Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and brush on the glaze. I really love lemon so I use up all the glaze and cover as much of the cake with it as possible.

Sprinkle with icing sugar before serving to make this look like even more of a masterpiece!

Lemon Cake

Update: I made this cake with coconut sugar recently. It darkened the end product, but still tasted delicious and moist!

Lemon cake with coconut sugar