Sunday, November 13, 2011

Baked Rigatoni

I am a busy busy woman. I often tell myself that I don't have enough time to make home made meals. This often leads to a lot of take out food, a lot of money wasted and far too much rich food. I find that they key is to making food during my busy week is to be prepared. I need to make sure that I know what I'm going to make and to have the ingredients on hand. I also like to make a big batch of something that I can have for lunch or dinner for a few days in a row.


As winter approaches, I have been feeling like eating hearty dishes (insulation?). This recipe is an example of how fast and easy it can be to make a delicious, home-made meal.


Baked Rigatoni
3/4 of a 900 gram bag of rigatoni
2 large cans of your favorite pasta sauce (I used roasted garlic and tomato)
3/4 of a 454g tub of ricotta cheese
1/2 fresh lemon
1 package pre-sliced mushrooms
garlic
freshly ground pepper
1 cup of frozen peas
1 bag of pre-grated cheese (or do it yourself! I used a cheddar blend).


1. Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water for about 9 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water until cooled down. Put the pasta back in the pot and cover with tomato sauce. Add in peas and stir to combine.
2. Sauté mushrooms in garlic and olive oil until tender. I turned up the heat to high at the end to brown them. Add them to the pasta mixture.
3. Put the ricotta cheese into a bowl. Zest the lemon onto the cheese and squeeze in the juice of half of the lemon. Top with freshly ground pepper and mix.
4. Add half of the pasta mixture to the bottom of a large casserole dish. Top with dollops of the ricotta cheese mixture. Cover the ricotta with the other half of the pasta. Top with the grated cheese (I was very generous) and baked in a 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Raw Chocolate Truffles


I've posted already about 'balls' on this blog. I really do think they're a delicious, nutrient filled snack. I brought them into the pub one time and my friend Jess loved them. I've been telling her I would make her balls for months now- and today was finally the day. Today was a bit different, however, because this time I made up the recipe myself so I could share it with you. I must warn you- the ingredients for this recipe are quite pricey...but they are so good for you and so worth it. This recipe makes about 2 dozen truffles. One recipe uses only half or less of a jar of nut butter so it goes a long way.

By the way...did you know how amazing raw, unprocessed chocolate is for you? (It's good for your heart, your happiness, it's full of magnesium, antioxidants and so much more!) 
Mmmm Cashew butter
Raw Chocolate Truffles   
3/4 cup of cashew butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup of pure maple syrup
1/4 cup of agave syrup
1/2 tsp of vanilla bean powder
1 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp maca powder
pinch of sea salt
4 tbsp high quality coconut oil, softened 
1 1/2 cups high quality raw chocolate powder
unsweetened coconut/chocolate powder for dusting

1. In a large bowl, beat the cashew butter, maple syrup, agave syrup, vanilla bean powder, balsamic vinegar, maca powder, salt and coconut oil until smooth and creamy. 
2. Beat in raw chocolate powder in 1/2 cup additions until smooth with a wooden spoon. 
3. Chill in the fridge for about half an hour or until firm enough to handle. 
4. Set up a plate with coconut and a plate with cacao powder. Spoonful small amounts into your hand and roll into a ball. Dust with coconut or cacao powder. I had to make the truffles in rounds, putting the mixture back in the fridge to firm up. Store in an air tight container or give to someone special! Keep these bad boys in the fridge! 
Change things up: add a few drops of peppermint oil or orange oil to part of the mixture to give a different flavor. You could also add goji berries or dust with crushed cacao nibs for more crunch.  
Chantalle has the most amazing raw chocolate.
This is the brand of vanilla powder I use,
but I also use real vanilla beans sometimes.

\


The final product! Yum! 






Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Comfort Soup

I made this soup after my colleague brought minestrone soup to school one day for treat day. Soups are one of the only areas I really feel confident making things up. I've realized that my theory when it comes to making a lot of food is 'put in what I like'. It seems to be a good place to start! The recipe for this soup is a bit loose- feel free to add or omit wherever you feel fit! 
Mmmminestrone
2 sweet onions, peeled and diced
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into large coins
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
large handful of green beans, washed and chopped (1 inch)
1/2 a red pepper, seeded and diced
1 zucchini, cut into half circles
1 cup frozen organic corn
1 can white beans, rinsed
1 carton of vegetable broth + 1 cup
1 large can whole plum tomatoes with juices
1 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp dried basil
lots of freshly ground pepper and sea salt
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 cup corn macaroni 


1) Sauté the onions, carrots, garlic, rosemary and basil for about 10 minutes over medium heat. Add sweet potato and sauté for a few minutes longer. 
2) Add the red pepper, green beans, broth and tomatoes. I like to break the tomatoes up a bit with my wooden spoon. Bring to a boil over high heat and then turn down to simmer for about 20 minutes until the sweet potato is tender firm. 
3) Add the zucchini, corn, beans and corn macaroni and simmer until the noodles are cooked (around 10 minutes). 
4) Enjoy steaming hot with lots of freshly ground pepper, some sea salt and a few shavings of parmesan cheese. 


(I have to admit- I totally did not keep track of my cooking times- use your best judgement! I hope you enjoy this soup as much as I do.) 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Butternut Squash & Orzo

I've been trying to keep up with cooking with my new full-time job as a teacher. I had some theory that I would do all of this cooking/baking on Sundays and Wednesdays for the week. Every now and again I've actually kept it up. I've also been trying to give myself a break by buying things that are already made like granola bars and some crackers.


A couple of weeks ago I made up this delicious butternut squash and orzo pasta salad that I really really enjoyed. For you gluten-free folks it would also be delicious with quinoa or brown rice. I apologize for the quality of the photo!
Butternut Squash Orzo
-1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
-1 medium butter nut squash
-1/2 cup crumble feta
-handful of dried cranberries
-1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds (or both)
-1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
-salt and freshly ground pepper
-4-6 Tablespoons olive oil
-1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard 
-2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar


-Preheat your oven to 425
-Cook the orzo in boiling salted water until tender (8-10 minutes). Drain and rinse under cold water.
-To roast the squash: peel and cub into small-ish cubes. On a baking tray toss with olive oil to coat, salt and pepper and the nutmeg and cinnamon. Bake at 425 for about 15 minutes and then lower the heat to 375. Bake until tender, stirring occasionally. 
-Toss the cooked squash and all of the roasting oils with the orzo pasta in a large bowl. Allow to cool slightly. Add cranberries, crumbled feta and toasted nuts. 
-Whisk olive oil, dijon mustard, S&P and apple cider vinegar in a bowl (adjust quantities as necessary). Pour over salad and toss. 
-This salad is delicious warm and cold. Eat it every day until it's gone. 


Bon Appétit!


PS- I did not measure ingredients at all when I made this so this is a rough estimate. Play around and add more or less of any ingredient. This dish would also be delish with some caramelized onions or even better- pan-fried sage! 
  

Friday, August 19, 2011

Raw Cheesecake Love

A couple of days ago I was out with some of my favorite girls to send off our lovely friend Nora and to celebrate my friend Simone's birthday. We went for drinks to Atmosphere Cafe in Guelph who was kind enough to let us store the cake I made at the restaurant.


Although I certainly do not eat a raw food diet, I am a big fan of raw desserts. They always satisfy my sweet tooth and are so nutritionally dense. Lately I have been making nut butter based raw chocolate balls. They are a great snack to have around as they are full of antioxidants and proteins and so easy to make.


I also love making raw cheesecakes. They stay in the freezer so you can keep them around for whenever you are craving a treat. If I were to have one in the evening I might choose to have only a salad alongside as they are full of  (natural) fats. They are also dairy-free, gluten-free and processed sugar- free. You don't even have to feel guilty about having a slice for breakfast (as my roommate is doing now!).
You can see that the cake looks kind of frosty in this photo. I think leaving it out for about 15 minutes before serving is the best idea. I definitely like it better cooler and firmer. Part of the challenge with this kind of a dessert is that it's definitely beneficial to have a high powered blender to make the filling. I have a vitamix which is one of the best blenders out there. It helps to have a great blender to achieve the smooth consistency.
This is my beautiful friend Simone. She is an amazing mother of two beautiful children. We have been friends for years and years but became much closer after the birth of her first child, Olivia. Simone has always been interested in natural foods so I thought she would appreciate this cake (and she did!). She just moved to Guelph with her family and I'm so happy that she's here!


And now for the recipe...


Raw Peach Cheesecake:
Crust:
-3/4 cup raw unsalted brazil nuts
-3/4 cup dried figs
-1 tsp cinnamon
-a few good grinds of sea salt
Put the ingredients into a food processor and process until fine. When you take a spoonful into your hand your should be able to shape it into a ball with it holding together. Place the mixture into the bottom of a spring-form pan (or whatever you're using) and press down evenly. I keep this pan in the freezer until I'm ready to work with it again. You can add more brazil nuts and figs (evenly) to the mixture if you want a thicker crust.
Filling:
-5 cups raw cashews
-2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
-2/3 cup natural sweetener (I used agave)
-1 cup of water (or more if necessary) 
-pinch sea salt 
-1/4 cup coconut oil 
-5 peaches
-seeds of 2 whole vanilla beans
Place the cashews, lemon juice, sweetener, water and sea salt in the blender. Blend until smooth. Add the coconut oil (make sure it's very soft if not liquid) and the vanilla bean seeds. Blend again until incorporated. At this point I put half of the filling into the pan. To the other half of the filling I added the fresh chopped and skinned peaches and blended until smooth. I added this peach filling on top, smoothed the top and kept the cake in the freezer until it was served. 
Stewed Peaches:
-6 fresh peaches, skinned and chopped
-1 tsp of cinnamon
-1/4 cup water
-1 tbsp of ginger marmalade
Add all of the ingredients to a pot and bring to a boil. Simmer until the peaches break down and the sauce thickens. Cool before serving! (I know that this part is not raw but you could certainly do a raw version). Enjoy!!! 


Please enjoy these lovely pictures of the finished product!
 PS. I couldn't love juicy summer peaches any more!!!! xo

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Danielle's Shower

My mom and I held a wedding shower for our friend Danielle about a month ago. I was lucky enough to grow up in a great neighborhood where we had a great group of families who spent time together. We are all still friends and now is the time when all of the grown up kiddies are starting to get married. Danielle is the first one of the group and my mom and I were honored to have the shower at my parent's house. There were a lot of lovely ladies there and we enjoyed food, drinks and played some fun games. 


I love to throw a good party. I've often spent many of my birthdays having people over and creating elaborate menus of delicious treats for my guests. I love to feed people and I love to serve people food that they truly enjoy. I've hosted a number of dinner parties and events and I feel that I've really gotten a grasp of what needs to be done to throw a successful party. The small details are very important. It's important to think out each dish and to prepare AS MUCH as possible before the party. Getting the work done ahead of time makes the day of so much less stressful and much more enjoyable. 


The food at this party was particularly glorious. Enjoy the photos below of the food we made with love and served to our guests! 
                                            This fresh fig and mascarpone tart was 
                           the hit of the party! I think fresh figs are
                           the best fruit out there!
The tart has a fresh pesto and fig center. It was to die for! 
Gourmet cheese selection from Ouderkirk and Taylor. 
BL-Stuffed tomatoes (bacon and lettuce filling)
Chicken satays with peanut sauce
Fresh avocado thai spring rolls with sweet chili sauce
Apricot curry glazed shrimp
Rebecca Roy's world famous butter tarts
Chocolate Mocha cupcakes (oh sweet glory)

Strawberry Pistachio Lemon Mousse Cake
It was a great day and I really enjoyed preparing these delicious dishes for the party. I hope you enjoyed the photos- more to come! 
Gat

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Restaurant Review: Enoteca Sociale


Whenever I need a restaurant recommendation (especially in the GTA), I always turn to my dear friend Jenn.


Jenn and I have shared a love for food and dining for a long time. We grew up together and luckily have moms that fed us delicious home made food made with good quality ingredients. Jenn's mom used to look after my brother and I when we were young. I remember peeking out the front window waiting for the fresh bread to be delivered. We would eat it still warm from the oven, smothered in butter and fresh strawberry jam. 


Jenn now works for Olivier Bonacini in HR and has already done so many amazing things with her career, including recently winning a spot in the OHI's top 30 under 30. It is so fun to be foodies together! 


A couple of months ago, Jenn took me to a restaurant in Toronto called Enoteca Social. It was a fantastic meal and I loved so much about the restaurant. 
Not a huge menu- but
everything made fresh
and as local as possible.
 We started off with a cheese plate. Any of you who know me well know that my brother Nick and I have a strong dislike for what we refer to as "raw cheese". This term is used to describe cheese that is un-melted. I have always been a bit more lenient than my brother in this regard often eating feta or goats cheese 'raw'. What I have discovered recently is that I don't dislike "raw cheese"- I am simply a cheese snob. You could never get me to eat a piece of rubbery cheddar from the grocery store- but put a gourmet cheese platter in front of me and I really enjoy it. This was a lovely cheese plate served with the most delicious candied pecans. They are so serious about cheese at this restaurant that they have a cheese cave. Yes...you heard me, a cave.
Next we enjoyed the most glorious risotto balls (I'm sure they had a much fancier and proper Italian name). They were crispy on the outside but not greasy and tender in the inside with a cheese center. They were served on top of caramelized onions with a chili oil on the side and arugula on top. This was a delicious dish. 
Jenn and I shared a couple of pasta dishes. One of them was this classic butternut squash ravioli tossed in a sage and hazelnut brown butter. You really can't beat fresh pasta. The filling was so creamy and it was perfectly seasoned. I would really love to explore trying to make some on my own. 
We ended off with a brilliant chocolate pot. It was so creamy and decadent and my favorite part was that it was topped with sea salt. If you have not yet tried chocolate and sea salt you are missing out!
I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone. It is reasonably priced and delicious. My favorite part by far though? My company :) 


www.sociale.ca



Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Weekend!

I hope you all had a lovely long weekend! Undoubtably many of you over-indulged this weekend. I'm always curious to know what people eat at holiday celebrations. For some it's the same thing each year and for others a new menu each time. My family seems to enjoy either ham, lamb, or a traditional turkey dinner. This years dinner featured: turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry jelly, mashed potatoes, boiled peas and carrots and white buns. Although it's quite yum, this traditional meal is not my favourite. I often describe it as being 'boring'. Although I was grateful for all the wonderful food, my favourite dish this dinner was my roasted beet salad (a fav of my friend Linda as well!) 
Sarah's Roasted Beet Salad
beets (organic is always best!) 
olive oil
maple syrup/balsamic/raspberry vinegar
sea salt & pepper 
choice of nut (pine nut, walnut, almond, pecan)
choice of cheese (feta, goats, shaved parmesan)
oranges


1. Peel your beets and cut them into wedges. Toss the beets with olive oil, maple syrup and salt and pepper. Roast in a hot oven until tender. This takes a good 40 minutes in a 375 degree oven. I like to leave them with a bit of bite. 
2. Let the beets cool until just slightly warm in the roasting pan. 
3. Put the beets into a bowl and add the juices from the pan. Add segmented oranges (or any other fruit you might enjoy instead) and your choice of cheese. If you want to see a colour contrast with the cheese, add it in just before serving (as it will soak up that lovely beet colour). 
4. Add your choice of toasted nuts before serving. I like to toast my nuts in a dry non-stick pan. 
5. Flavour to taste! You may want a little extra salt and pepper. Perhaps a drizzle of aged balsamic or a glug of olive oil. If you choose to use raspberry vinegar, only season the beets with olive oil before baking them. 


This simple recipe is so delicious. It's really just about finding which combinations you enjoy. If you'd like to bring this for lunch or eat it as a main dish, serve it on top of quinoa with a side of greens. I love to eat this salad when it's still a little warm. Enjoy! 


To end this post, I must share with you a few photos of the glorious strawberry tart I made on Sunday. The sun was streaming into my parent's house which was perfect to capture those juicy red strawberries. Feel free to click on the photos for a closer look!
A simple tart with a pastry crust, filled with mascarpone (an Italian cream cheese that I mixed with some sugar, lemon juice and vanilla) and topped with sugar glazed strawberries. I then boiled down port with strawberry juice to drizzle on top. Divine! 
Such a beautiful presentation. 

I loved the port/strawberry drizzle! 


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My new favourite snack: Balls!

I knew this blog title would capture your attention. 

It always makes me laugh or smile when I ask, "would you like a ball?" or say, "I made the most delicious balls last night". 

Balls are a great snack to have in the fridge or freezer, especially to help calm a sugar craving. The recipes I have used so far are made with the best of ingredients including raw cacao, honey, coconut, almond butter, dates and cinnamon. They're full of protein and free from preservatives and additives. 

By the way...Chocolate is good for you! Not sugar ridden chocolate bars, but raw, unprocessed cacao. It's full of magnesium, antioxidants, natural caffeine and most importantly, Phenylethylamine (PEA)...the love chemical
Raw cacao nibs and paste. 

You can store your balls in either the fridge or the freezer. I make a lovely cinnamon/raisin/almond ball and a delicious chocolate coconut ball. More recently I tried one I really enjoyed from www.nourishingmeals.com

I will be playing around with recipes over the next week and promise to post one for you to all enjoy! 
My beautiful balls. 
I hope you enjoyed hearing about one of my favourite snacks. If anything, I hope the next time you're hungry, you think about my delicious balls. 

ps...Looking for a great source for some of these ingredients? See my dear friend Chantalle at the Guelph Market! 

pps Still figuring out blogging- I'm not sure why my font changed half way through!  

Monday, March 7, 2011

Kindfood Burlington



If you know me at all you know that one of my favourite pass times involves reading about restaurants and checking out their menus online. I will have often chosen exactly what I'm having before I even get to the restaurant. My friend Hilary knows that traveling with me means letting me trail behind as I read the menus of the restaurants we pass. Many delicious meals were enjoyed as a result of this. 


Kindfood is a gem I found while looking up vegetarian restaurants. I had been eyeing this restaurant for a couple of months before finally making the trip in- and I am so happy I did. 


Kindfood (from my understanding) is owned and run by a mother daughter duo Kelly and Erinn. I saw them peek out from the back now and again but the front of house was run by two great guys, Michael and Patrick (hope I got that right!). I spent about an hour in the restaurant waiting for my friend and had the pleasure of watching them interact with customers. Both of these guys were so so friendly, helpful and most of all, genuine. They introduced themselves by name to every single customer and were so passionate and knowledgeable about the food that they were selling. 


Kindfood is a vegan restaurant/food shop/bakery. They sell organic juices and smoothies as well as salads, soups, sandwiches burgers and specials like macaroni and cheese. All all of their baking is free from wheat and gluten, dairy and refined sugars. The countertops were covered with cookies, mint chocolate brownies and row after row of perfect cupcakes. What can I say- this restaurant oozes positivity. I could barely wipe the smile off my face. 
Lemon Cupcakes
It took everything in me not to get one!



I am in the 're-introduction' phase of my elimination diet so I am still fairly limited in what I can eat. I enjoyed a vegan grilled cheese on gluten free bread and a caesar salad with brazil nut parmesan. It was delicious! Many of you might think that the serving size it small- but it was just enough for me. They use a kind of vegan cheese called Daiya which was surprisingly delicious. I was also able to enjoy a chewy and perfectly sweet snicker doodle cookie. I was definitely in my element at this restaurant! 



This is an amazing cafe and bakery that I would recommend to vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. The best part is that you leave feeling great! 


There is certainly something extra-special about food made with healthy ingredients and more importantly, with love. 


Please check out www.kindfood.com for more information. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Rawlicious Yorkville

Hilary and I visited Toronto today with the intention of going to the Tim Burton exhibition. There was a 2 hour wait in the cold so we decided to do some window shopping and then have lunch. 


Rawlicious is a living food restaurant in Toronto. Living foods are not cooked above 118 degrees- but often dehydrated at or below this temperature. Preparing food this way keeps nutrients and enzymes in tact and present. I have tried a living food diet a few times but have found that I do like to have cooked foods in my diet. I am so happy to have learned so much about preparing food in this manner because living foods are whole foods free of harmful ingredients, processing and preservatives. I enjoy raw food meals in my life fairly often and especially love raw desserts. 




This particular restaurant was located in Yorkville. It was a beautiful spot- open, colourful and generally just positive feeling.
















Beautiful ingredients in the open kitchen 
Lovely and helpful staff! 
Delicious Hot Chocolate

Hilary enjoys a chocomint smoothie

Absolutely delish caesar salad with onion bread croutons
and pine nut parmesan.


Hilary had zucchini pasta with pesto, tomato sauce
and 'neat balls'. Yum!!!


Strawberry ice cream! Made with cashews
strawberries and maple! Wow!


I would highly recommend Rawlicious to meat-eaters, vegans and raw foodies alike. This place is a real treat and it feels 
good to eat
here.

www.rawlicious.ca