Friday, June 24, 2011

Arugula Oven-Dried Tomato Salad

I've had a super, super, super lazy day... I've been sick all week and have had next to zero energy. Thank goodness it's a holiday here in Quebec, so Jerome is home and I was able to yet again spend much of my day on the couch. I slept until noon (well after getting up from 5:30-8:30 with Logan), then fell asleep again with Logan from 1-2:30. And I've spent much of my afternoon lying on the couch being lazy. So here was my only contribution to anything in the house today, as Jerome spent much of his day finishing painting the basement, installing lights, etc. 

You have to make this well in advance, as the tomatoes take a long time to cook. But the salad itself is super quick and easy to make. I usually use fresh parmesan on the salad, but I didn't have the energy to dig to the very bottom of my freezer to find some. So this time I just used the crappy store-bought powdered kind. But it's way better with real parmesan. I also didn't use plum tomatoes, as I only had vine tomatoes, but it worked out just as well. I think that the plum tomatoes are just less juicy, so probably a better choice if you have to go to the grocery store anyhow.

2 large bunches arugula, stems trimmed
1 C oven-dried tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 oz. freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

1.  To make oven-dried tomatoes (use plum tomatoes): Preheat oven to 325 degrees Farenheit.  Cut tomatoes into wedges (quarters for small tomatoes and sixths for larger ones).  Arrange tomatoes on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until tomatoes are dried slightly but still soft to the touch.  Be careful not to overdry.  Remove from oven and allow to cool; cut tomatoes into 1/2-inch pieces.

2.  In a large bowl, gently toss together arugula, tomato slices, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place on salad plates.  Using a vegetable peeler, shave some cheese onto each plate.  Serve immediately.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Tomatoes with Fresh Mozzarella

Here's another 'non-recipe recipe' for a side dish that I've been making often in the past few weeks, but that we often make when tomatoes are in season. This isn't much of a recipe, as I'm sure that almost everyone has both eaten and made this before. But I thought I'd throw this up on my blog as a side dish just for another idea of something you can make.

fresh mozzarella or boccoccini
good quality olive oil
balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste

My preference is to use Saputo's mozzafina di latte cheese. I can't find a link to it, but I buy it at Costco. But I'll use boccoccini when I haven't had time to get to Costco. I use our Olive & Olives' organic extra-virgin olive oil and recently, have been using a cider balsamic vinegar from Verger Pierre Gingras that I picked up when we were in Rougemont last year doing a cider tour.

You basically just slice the tomatoes, sprinkle them with a bit of salt and pepper and then pour a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar on them. My preference is to load mine with vinegar, as you'll see in the photo... mmm... my mouth is watering as I write this. I have a thing for vinegar. Perhaps it dates back to when I was much younger and someone told me that if you put vinegar on your gravy (when eating fries), it takes the fat out of the vinegar. That's clearly not true, though I believed it at the time and got into the habit of putting vinegar into gravy (I know! Sounds gross, but it's great - even with poutine!). Anyhow, that's just a side-story of why I put so much vinegar on mine. Enjoy your tomatoes :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Green Beans with Shallots

Jerome's cousin Isabelle served this to us when we were having lunch at her house one day last year.  The recipe is so simple but really is delicious.  I made it for my family when they were up for Logan's birthday and got many compliments on how fantastic the beans were. And I just made it again last night to go with supper.

I've gotten into the habit of buying our green beans at Costco ever since Logan was born.  Although a bit pricier than buying them at the grocery store, the fact that they come with the ends snapped off is well worth the price to me now that I have Logan and don't have time to spend my life snapping ends off of beans.  They come with two separate packages and that usually lasts us for 4-6 meals for the two of us.

It is really key for this recipe to use a good quality olive oil, as that's what gives it such good flavour. Our Costco occasionally has local vendors come in selling really good olive oils. The one we're using right now is Olive & Olives' organic extra-virgin olive oil.  Absolutely delicious!  The 500 mL bottle sells for $22 on-line, plus $10 shipping, which isn't cheap. We picked it up at Costco for about $19.  Which still isn't cheap, but it is well worth the price. I was back at the Pointe-Claire Costco just this past weekend and Olive & Olives was back again, showcasing their products.

I became sold on the justification for using good quality olive oil after my sisters came back from a trip to Turkey and brought us back a fantastic bottle of olive oil (sorry guys - I can't actually remember which one of you it was from).  Up until that point, I had always just used regular olive oil, such as Bertolli.  I now always keep two bottles of olive oil on hand.  One regular bottle, which is what I mainly use - for cooking, most salads we make, etc.  And then I keep a bottle of good olive oil, which I will use to drizzle certain veggies with or will use in salad recipes when we're having people over. 

In any case, that's enough of my pushing you to buy some good olive oil. I don't make commission.  For the green bean recipe you will need: 

green beans
good quality olive oil
salt and pepper

1.  Cook the green beans, according to how you usually prepare them (we usually steam them in our veggie steamer).

2.  While the green beans are cooking, fry a shallot or two in a bit of oil (depending on how many beans you are cooking). 

3.  When the green beans are cooked, pour a bit of good quality olive oil on them (you won't need much) and stir in the shallots.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Serve hot.

In France, they sell dried shallots in the spice aisle and this is what Isabelle made hers with. We brought back a few jars with us and that's what I've been using. But we've just run out, so I'm going to start making it with real shallots. A little more time consuming, but I figure that I can fry a bunch up at once and just add them progressively throughout the week. Or can even freeze little bunches of them in ice cube tins to pull out as we need them.  Given that you'll have to use a bit of oil to fry the shallots, you'll have to see whether or not you need to add a bit more oil to the beans once they're cooked.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Banana Applesauce Muffins

This is another great muffin recipe from Canada's 150 Best Diabetes Desserts, which, as I've mentioned, is my new favourite cookbook. I think that these are my favourite of the muffins that I've made from this cookbook so far. The muffins are light and moist and just plain yummy.  Logan loves these and ate 1 1/2 of them yesterday and has already had a full one today between breakfast and lunch.

2 C whole-wheat flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 1/3 C)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 C unsweetened applesauce
1/2 C sugar
1/4 C vegetable oil

1.  In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

2.  In a medium bowl, combine bananas, egg, applesauce, sugar and oil.  Stir into flour mixture until just combined.

3.  Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups.

4.  Bake in 400 degree Farenheit oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins (we got 16)

Nutrients per muffin:
183 calories
32g carbs
3g fiber
4g protein

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper Risotto

This recipe comes from The Complete Whole Grains Cookbook, where I had also gotten my delicious Brown Rice Risotto recipe.

I don't like pancetta, so I chose to fry two pieces of bacon, chop that, and add it in.  Though I don't find that it added much flavour to the recipe, so I think I'll just completely omit it next time.  I don't have the time to roast my own peppers to make this, so I use the huge jar of roasted red peppers that they sell at Costco.  As long as you make sure that your fork is clean each time you take out a pepper (which I finally learned, thanks to Heather!), the peppers will last in your fridge, open, for a super long time. We then use them in all sorts of things - I stir them into chicken salad sandwiches, chop them up to go in salads, etc.

The recipe suggests you soak the rice before cooking.  If you don't have time to do this, you can just add an additional 15 minutes to the indicated cooking time.  However, I find that the rice doesn't become as creamy if you don't presoak it, so it doesn't make for as nice of a risotto.

1 C short-grain brown rice
1 C water
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp. diced pancetta, optional
1/2 tsp. sweet or hot paprika
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 C dry white wine or additional stock
1 1/2 C reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
3/4 C diced roasted red peppers (about 2)
2 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1.  In a bowl, combine rice and water.  Stir well.  Cover and set aside for at least 3 hours or overnight.  Drain, reserving liquid.

2.  In a heavy saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, heat oil over medium heat for 30 seconds.  Add onion and panetta, if using, and cook, stirring, until onion softens, about 3 minutes.  Add paprika and black pepper and cook, stirring for 1 minute.  Add wine and cook, stirring until liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes.  Add stock and reserved soaking liquid and bring to a boil.  Stir in rice and return to a boil.  Reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer for 35 minutes.

3.  Stir in red pepper.  Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan.  Serve immediately.

Tip:  For steps 2-3, I cook the onion in a pan in the olive oil and then throw everything else into my rice cooker and cook it in there.

Makes 6 servings.


Risotto with Cabbage: Substitute 2 C thinly shredded cabbage (preferably Savoy) for the roasted red peppers and 1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves for the paprika.
Smoked Cheese Risotto: Omit pancetta, paprika and roasted red peppers.  Add 2 cloves minced garlic, along with the onion.  After the rice is tender (Step 3), stir in 1 C shredded smoked Gouda or mozzarella until melted, then add Parmesan.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I made these cookies yesterday morning to take over to Brandi's. I've already mentioned it before, but I'm in love with my new cookbook, Canada's 150 Best Diabetes Desserts.  If you like to bake, but also still like to fit into your pants week after week, I highly recommend that you run out and buy yourself a copy of this. Again, all of the recipes are chock-full of healthy ingredients, such as whole-wheat flour, bran, wheat germ, nuts, flax, etc. and none of them contain a ton of sugar. And every one of them that I've made so far has still been yummy.

The recipe says that it makes 18 cookies. I doubled it and got maybe 27 or so.  And I don't feel like mine were overly large.  Almost all of the 27 of them disappeared yesterday... so I guess that means they're pretty good. I still chuckle at seeing Rylan hiding under the table, where no one could quite see him, eating another one and feeding pieces to Logan :)

6 tbsp. packed brown sugar
1/4 C butter, softened
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 C rolled oats
1/2 raisins
1/4 C whole wheat flour
1/4 C wheat germ
1/2 tsp. baking powder

1.  In a bowl, cream brown sugar with butter.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  In another bowl, stir together oats, raisins, whole-wheat flour, wheat germ and baking powder.  Stir into creamed mixture just until blended.

2.  Drop batter by teaspoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between cookies.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden.  Cool on wire racks.

Makes 18 cookies

Nutrients per 2 cookies:
160 calories
24g carbohydrates
2g fiber
3g protein
6g fat