Strawberry Oatmeal Crumble Bars

Strawberry Oatmeal Crumble Bars

I had seen a few recipes for berry oatmeal bars such as this recipe for strawberry oatmeal bars that looked really good. The strawberry and rhubarb jam was calling to me and I could not resist using it along with some fresh strawberries in some oatmeal bars. The strawberry and rhubarb oatmeal crumble bars were really easy to make and taste great! The only problem that I had was that the bars crumbled easily and did not come out of the pan looking much like bars. Though I did not realize it before making it, the oatmeal crumble recipe was really similar to the topping that I often use on my crumbles and crisps. In fact the strawberry and rhubarb oatmeal crumble bars tasted almost exactly like a strawberry and rhubarb crumble only with a higher ratio of crumble to filling. I think I might have to try one warm with some vanilla ice cream.

Strawberry Danish Braid

Strawberry Danish Braid

This months Daring Bakers challenge was a Danish braid and I was really looking forward to making it. The Danish braid is made with Danish pastry dough which is made by folding dough with butter into many layers. The Danish dough should bake up nice and light and buttery and flaky. I had been wanting to try making a multi-layer dough that puffed up when cooked for a while. As coincidence would have it I had also recently bookmarked a cheese danish recipe that I had wanted to try.

One thing that I really liked about this challenge was that we were allowed to choose the filling. Since strawberries were in the peak of their season I could not pass up on the chance to use some fresh strawberries. I had just made some strawberry and rhubarb jam and I though that it would go well in the braid as well. Since I still had the cheese danish on my mind I also decided to add some cream cheese. In the end it turned out to be a strawberry Danish braid with cream cheese and strawberry and rhubarb jam.

Strawberry and Rhubarb Jam

Strawberry and Rhubarb Jam

Last year I made some strawberry jam that I really enjoyed. With all of the fresh strawberries around I wanted to make some more but I still had some left from last year. Since I really like the strawberry and rhubarb combination I decided to make some strawberry and rhubarb jam this year. The jam was easy to make, I just followed the instructions in the pectin crystal package. One thing to remember when making jam on the stove is to use a really large pot. The jam expands when it reaches a hard boil and you don't want if spilling over the sides. Of course I could not help myself and I opened up a jar of the jam right away to try. The strawberry and rhubarb jam turned out really good! The tartness of the rhubarb balanced out the sweetness of what otherwise would have been a sweet strawberry jam.

Jamaican Red Beans and Rice

Jamaican Red Beans and Rice

While I was searching for jerk chicken recipes I came across the a Jamaican red beans and rice side dish that sounded interesting. I though that having a bean and rice side dish with the jerk chicken would be a nice way to cool off the tongue in between bites of the spicy jerk chicken. The red beans and rice were also cooked in coconut milk which I really enjoy. The most interesting part of this recipe is that you cook the rice with a whole scotch bonnet pepper in it to give it the flavour of the scotch bonnet without too much of the heat. Rice is pretty easy to cook on the stove top or I would think that this would work well in a rice cooker. I decided to use brown rice to make it a bit healthier. The red beans and rice turned out pretty good. It was nice and tasty and even though it was spicy, compared to the chicken it was nice and cool and refreshing.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Dinner

I had been wanting to try exploring Jamaican cuisine for a while and a jerk spice was the first thing on my to try list. A jerk spice is spicy marinade for meats that primarily consists of allspice and scotch bonnet peppers. I had heard a lot of good things abut the scotch bonnet pepper, mainly being that it was nice and hot, and I had been wanting to try it. The remaining ingredients in the jerk mix can pretty varied. I found a bunch of recipes and picked and chose what I liked from them and I came up with this one. Because the scotch bonnet peppers were supposed to be really hot I started the marinade with just one and tasted it. It was pretty mild so in went a second followed by a third. I was thinking that the spice level would go up as the marinade sat and did its job so I stopped at three. Although the final result was nice and spicy I think I will go with five the next time that I make this.

For the first use of the jerk marinade I decided to do a jerk chicken dinner. I Marinated some chicken thighs in the jerk marinade overnight and roasted it in the oven. A nice and simple dish. The jerked chicken was nice and tasty. I really enjoyed the combination of flavours in the jerk spice mix. The jerk seasoning was spicy but not as hot as I would have liked. I served the jerked chicken with a simple mango and red pepper salsa to cool things down a bit and some Jamaican red beans and rice . Overall it was a really tasty meal!

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

It has been almost a year since I picked up an ice cream maker and I have been enjoying home made frozen treats since. So far I've made a few ice creams and a sorbet and I now wanted to try something different. I realized that I have not tried making one of my favorite frozen dishes, a frozen yogurt. I had to fix that immediately. Strawberries were the obvious choice since they are in season and looking so good. One of the things that I like most about making my own ice cream is the simplicity of the recipes. There are only a few ingredients and you can pronounce all of them. This recipe is a perfect example with only four simple ingredients. One thing that you may want to watch out for in this recipe is the sweetness. Plain yogurt can be a bit tart so you will want to test the mixture for sweetness before freezing it. The strawberry frozen yogurt was good! I really enjoyed the texture of the frozen yogurt and the strawberry flavour. Next time I think I will leave some bigger chunks of strawberries in.

Steak Chimichurri

Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

Chimichurri is a parsley based sauce from Argentina that is commonly used to season steak and other grilled meats. Over the last while I have been seeing some mouth watering posts about steak with chimichurri sauce and I had to try it. Though parsley may not be my favorite herb, it is probably the herb that I use most often and I liked the sound of a steak dressed simply with a tasty parsley sauce. I could not get the thought of a medium rare steak out of my mind so I decided to make steak with the chimichurri sauce. I seasoned the steak simply with just salt and pepper to allow the chimichurri sauce to be the star of the show. Ideally you would grill the steak but I do not have access to a grill so I pan seared the steak in a bit of oil until just medium rare. The steak with chimichurri sauce was good! The chimichurri sauce was nice and cool and refreshing and at the same time it had a touch of heat.

Arancini di Riso (Rice Balls)

Arancini di Riso (Rice Balls) in Marinara Sauce

I had been wanting to try making arancini di riso for a while now. Arancini di riso are fried balls of rice. The balls of rice commonly contain things like ragu, mozzarella, peas, etc. You can make the rice from scratch for the arancini but it is a great way to breath some fresh life into your leftover risotto. Normally risotto disappears before I think about making arancini but this time I made sure to leave enough of the pea barley risotto to make the "rice" balls. I decided to keep it simple and just add a cube of mozzarella cheese since my risotto already had peas in it. I had some leftover marinara sauce in the freezer and I though that it would be a good idea to serve the rice balls on some of it. The rice balls are fairly easy to make. It is pretty much the same as any other breaded fried food; You dip the rice balls into the egg, then the bread crumbs, and then you fry them. I used the risotto directly from the fridge so it was cold, easy to work with and it held together. The arancini on marinara sauce were really tasty! They were nice and crispy on the outside and warm and gooey on the inside. Both the mozzarella and the parmigiano reggiano in the risotto had melted.

Strawberry Cheesecake Crepes

Strawberry Cheesecake Crepes

The farmers market was flooded with fresh local strawberries this weekend and I picked up a bunch of them. I just couldn't pass up on making a decadent strawberry breakfast and I thought that strawberry crepes would be great. Cheesecake had been on my mind and I was thinking that using a cheesecake like filling would be a great idea. For the cheesecake like filling I folded cream cheese into whipped cream. I still had some of the strawberry jam that I made last year and I decided to add some of that for even more strawberry flavour. The strawberry cheesecake crepes were really good. They were nice and fresh and cool and sweet and full of strawberry flavour. I enjoyed the taste and texture of the cream cheese and whipped cream filling. The crepes were a perfect Sunday breakfast.

Pea Barley Risotto

Pea Barley Risotto

It had been a while since I last made risotto and I had been wanting to try making one of the classic risottos, a simple pea risotto. Now that the fresh peas are out it was the perfect time. I could not resist playing with the risotto a bit and I decided to try making it with barley. Normally risotto is made with a medium grain rice like arborio rice but it also works with barley. Risotto takes a bit of time and effort but it is well worth it. A lot of creaminess of the risotto come from constant stirring over a period of time. Given that most risotto recipes call for some wine you can at least enjoy a glass while doing all of that stirring. The barley risotto turned out pretty good. It was nice and creamy and the barley was al dente and had a nice chewiness to it. The sweet fresh peas went really well in the cheesy risotto.

Strawberry and Feta Salad

Strawberry and Feta Salad
Fresh local strawberries started showing up at the farmers market recently and on the weekend I picked up a bunch of them. I was wondering what to do with them when I came across this recipe for a strawberry and feta salad that sounded nice and simple and good. What better way to start off enjoying the strawberries than a fresh strawberry salad? One of the reasons that I liked this salad was its use of the raspberry vinegar. I had never bought a flavoured vinegar before and I had been wanting to try one. This salad was the perfect excuse to pick some up. I really enjoyed the strawberry and feta salad and it was super quick and easy to throw together. The salty feta went really well with the sweet and juicy strawberries and the almonds added a nice crunchy texture. I liked the way the raspberry vinegar went in the salad and of course the balsamic vinegar is a classic companion to strawberries. I am looking forward to more strawberries and using the raspberry vinegar again.

Thai Lemon Shrimp

Thai Lemon Shrimp

In my never ending search for tasty shrimp recipes I came across this recipe for Goong Maa Now or Thai lemon shrimp. Like many Thai dishes this one is a perfect melding of sweet, sour, hot and salty. This recipe calls for kaffir lime leaves which were a bit difficult to find. Luckily they keep really well in the freezer and the bag that I picked up has lasted a long time. This is another super quick shrimp dish that takes almost no time to make. The lemon and coconut milk added an amazing flavour and aroma and of course this dish would not be complete without my favorite herb, cilantro. These lemon shrimp could easily be served as an appetizer or as a meal along with some rice or pasta.

Mango and Black Bean Quinoa Salad

Mango and Black Bean Quinoa Salad

I have been trying to eat more whole grains and lately I have really been enjoying quinoa in particular. One of my favorite ways to enjoy quinoa is as the base for a salad. With summer just around the corner the markets have been full of fresh fruits and vegetables. Recently I have been experimenting with using fruits in my salads and my current favorite, the mango, had to make an appearance in a quinoa salad. I have also been adding beans to my salads lately and I though that if I went with black beans I could start a texmex theme for the salad and continue it by adding some peppers, cumin, lime and cilantro. Quinoa can be cooked in a rice cooker and that makes a quinoa salad as easy as throwing everything together. The mango and black bean quinoa salad worked out well. The sweet and cool mango tempered the heat of the jalapeƱos and the beans rounded the salad out with a nice creaminess. The quinoa salad was good when it was still warm from cooking the quinoa and the leftovers were good straight out of the fridge.

Shrimp Scampi Pizza

Shrimp Scampi Pizza

It had been a long time since I had last had pizza and I was craving it. A while ago I made some shrimp scampi and I remembered thinking that it would go well on pizza. My idea was that the sauce of the pizza would be the garlic and butter sauce of the shrimp scampi and of course some cheese would be required to top everything off. The shrimp scampi pizza was easy to make and tasted great! I really enjoyed having shrimp on a pizza. The garlic and butter sauce went well on the pizza and I did not miss the tomato sauce at all. I had planned on brightening the pizza up a bit with some fresh chopped parsley after it came out of the oven but I completely forgot.

Baklava French Toast

Baklava French Toast

I recently came across the concept of baklava french toast by Elly on elly says opa! . It is basically french toast stuffed with a baklava like filling and then drenched in a honey syrup just like baklava. Baklava is one of my favorite treats and I just had to try the frech toast version. Making the baklava french toast is a bit of work but it is well worth it. The aromas of cinnamon, citrus and honey make the baklava french toast and experience before you even take a bite. When you do take a bite the toast is slightly crisp on the outside and warm and soft and moist on the inside. Then you hit the crunchy nut mixture and are hit with a blast of cinnamon. Covering all of this is a sweet and gooey honey, cinnamon and citrus syrup...mmm... I really enjoyed the baklava french toast! Since it takes a lot less effort to make than baklava it is perfect for when that baklava craving hits and you just don't have time to make baklava.

Presto Pasta Nights #67

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I am very pleased and excited to be guest hosting this weeks Presto Pasta Nights! Pasta dishes are among my favorites dishes and Presto Pasta Nights is one of my favorite Food Blogging events. I have really been looking forward to hosting the roundup this week. Enough of the small talk, lets get straight to the pasta:

Tequila Lime Shrimp

Tequila Lime Shrimp

Shrimp is one of my favorite foods. One of the things the things that I like most about shrimp, other than their flavour and texture, is that they cook up really quickly. They take no more than a few minutes to cook and that means that many dishes that focus on the shrimp cook in no time as well. In fact, a shrimp dish can be as simple as cooking the shrimp in a tasty sauce for a couple of minutes. This is one such dish, where the shrimp are cooked in a simple tequila and lime sauce. I wanted to add a bit of freshness to the dish so I used a jalapeƱo pepper as the source of heat. Fresh cilantro, one of my favorite herbs, was a must. I wanted to serve the shrimp on rice so I made sure that there was a nice amount of the tequila and lime sauce left to soak into the rice. The tequila lime rice came together quickly and was really tasty.

Mango Caprese Salad

Mango Caprese Salad

I have really been enjoying the mangoes so far this year but I had only been having the Mexican mangoes. Zen Chef left a comment on my Mango Crisp with Macadamia Nut Crust post that mentioned that Indian alphonso mangoes were in season and that they were pretty good. I looked up alphonso mangoes a quickly learned that they were considered by many to be the best of the mangoes. I just had to try them! The problem was locating some. I ended up finding them at a small grocery store in Little India in Toronto. They were a bit more expensive than the mangoes that I had been getting but I picked up a case of them anyways. They were under ripe and I had to wait a few days for them to ripen. That gave me a chance to think about how I would enjoy them.

I remembered seeing this really interesting recipe for a mango caprese salad . It is a twist on the classic caprese salad with the tomatoes replaced with sliced mango. Making a caprese salad also gave me the perfect excuse to pick up some fresh imported buffalo mozzarella which I had been wanting to try for a while. I dressed the salad up with a simple balsamic vinaigrette made with some better quality balsamic vinegar. I really enjoyed the mango caprese salad! It was nice and simple and light and every thing about it was good! The alphonso mangoes easily lived up to their hype, being sweet and flavourful. The fresh mozzarella was nice and soft and cool and moist. The balsamic vinegar rounded off the salad by adding a sweet and tart bite.

Asparagus, Beef and Shiitake Mushroom Stir-fry

Asparagus, Beef and Shiitake Mushroom Stir-fry

One of the things that I like best about this time of year is all of the fresh locally grown asparagus! The farmers market has been full of it the last few weeks and I have been been picking some up at every opportunity. I have also been keeping an eye out for tasty sounding asparagus recipes. A while ago I came across a recipe for an asparagus, beef and shiitake mushroom stir-fry . I like stir-frys because they are simple and quick and I liked the sound of the the asparagus, beef and shiitake mushroom flavour combo. Since I have been into black bean sauce lately I decided to make the stir-fry with a black bean sauce. I like heat I also added some chili sauce. The stir fry came together quickly and tasted great! This was easily my favorite of the black bean stir-frys that I have made so far. The trick is to have everything end up cooked at the same time without overcooking anything, especially not the asparagus. You want the asparagus to be just cooked, al dente so to say.

Teriyaki Salmon and Asparagus, Spinach Salad

Teriyaki Salmon and Asparagus, Spinach Salad

As the days get warmer I find myself turning to salads more often. Add a bit of meat to a salad and you have a nice light meal. One of my favorite meats is salmon and one of my favorite ways to cook it is teriyaki style. I thought that a spinach salad with asparagus and salmon teriyaki would make a nice meal. This would be a great way to use up any leftover salmon teriyaki that you might have. I rarely find myself with leftover salmon teriyaki though and this dish was well worth the effort of cooking the salmon. I dressed the salad with a simple teriyaki based dressing and I filled the salad out with vegetables that I had on hand.

Asparagus Carbonara

Asparagus Carbonara

Carbonara is one of my favorite pasta dishes and I had been craving it. A carbonara pasta is normally made from an egg yolk, pecorino romano, bacon and pepper. Asparagus is in season and I was thinking that it was similar in shape to penne pasta and that and asparagus penne carbonara would be really nice. Carbonara is really easy to make and it comes together in less time that it takes to cook the pasta. The asparagus carbonara was really good! It was a nice spring twist on a classic!

Rhubarb Crumb Cake

Rhubarb Crumb Cake

I came across this recipe for a rhubarb crumb cake a while ago. Rhubarb is something that I had been wanting to use more and a cake sounded like a great way to do it. I bookmarked the recipe to save for when rhubarb was in season and now that it was I had the chance to make it. The ingredient list for this recipe is a bit long but the cake comes together easily. The rhubarb crumb cake was really good! The cake was nice and soft and moist and the crumbs were light and sweet. Rhubarb is a bit tart and it perfectly balanced the sweetness of the crumb topping. I admit, I have been eating this cake for breakfast, along with the rhubarb fool. I have been enjoying the rhubarb so far this year and I look forward to using it some more.

Presto Pasta Nights

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I am very pleased to announce that this week I will be guest hosting the Presto Pasta Nights food blogging event! Presto Pasta Nights is a great food blogging event that was created by Ruth at Once Upon a Feast. It has been going for more than a year and it has accumulated a list of over 1200 pasta recipes that can be found in the archives here and here. This is my first time hosting a food blogging event and I am very excited about it! Given the number of entries under my Pasta label, it is clear that pasta is on of my favorite dishes. I am looking forward to seeing some tasty pasta dishes for this weeks roundup!

Please email your entries to me at lynch.kevin AT gmail DOT com by Thursday June the 12th for the Friday June the 13th roundup. Don't forget to link to Closet Cooking and Once Upon a Feast in the post so that your readers can find the roundup. Take a look at the guidelines for submission here, where you can also find out who will be hosting Presto Pasta Nights in the near future.

Curried Chicken and Mango Salad Sandwich

Curried Chicken and Mango Salad Sandwich

Ever since I made the chicken salad sandwich I had been wanting to try a curried version. I like curry in all forms and I like to try experimenting by adding curry to new dishes. Mango chutney is one of my new favorite condiments and I was thinking that a curried chicken and mango salad sandwich would be perfect. This sandwich was a pretty easy to make and it tasted great! It was nice and creamy with bursts of juicy sweet mango. The whole sandwich was enveloped in a warm aroma of curry and it was filled with curried goodness. The mango chutney and curry powder added the perfect level of heat.

Shrimp Kung Pao

Shrimp Kung Pao

I had been seeing a lot a great looking Kung Pao recipes (such as here or here ) and I just had to try making it. I liked the fact that the recipes called for sichuan peppercorns which I had recently acquired in Chinatown and I had been interested in using again. Chinese black vinegar is another ingredient that I had been wanting to try using. I was also interested in trying a dish that included whole dried chilies. Given my current obsession with prawns I decided to do a shrimp kung pao. Everything about the kung pao dish sounded really tasty!

Though the list of ingredients is a bit long, if you prepare everything before you start cooking and have it on hand it is pretty easy to make. The shrimp kung pao turned out great! It was one of the tastiest meals that I have had in a while. I really enjoy the fragrance of the toasting sichuan peppercorns and chilies. Up till now I had ground the sichuan peppercorns before adding them to the dish and this recipe called for them to be used whole. The fact that the recipe also contains peanuts made me want to chew each bite well to enjoy the peanuts. That meant that I also got to chew most of the whole sichuan peppercorns and fully enjoy their mouth numbing effect. The sichuan peppercorn effect and the heat of the chilies was a really nice combination. I served the shrimp gong bao on rice the first night and I tried serving the leftovers on some whole wheat pasta. I am thinking that when I make this again I will try adding some vegetables.

Rhubarb Fool

Rhubarb Fool

I had been impatiently awaiting for the fresh local rhubarb and on the weekend I found some at the farmers market. It was nice and thick and dark red and I picked some up. I wanted to start with something simple to showcase the rhubarb flavour and I thought that a fool would be perfect. A fool is generally pureed sweetened fruit with whipped cream or custard. This time I thought that I would make a rhubarb and vanilla yogurt fool. I simmered the rhubarb in orange juice and a bit of sugar to soften it and give a pureed like texture. I used a small amount of sugar to temper the tartness of the rhubarb just a bit. The rhubarb fool turned out amazing! I really enjoyed the flavour of the rhubarb and its tartness. Although the vanilla yogurt does not seem all that sweet by itself, it seemed much sweeter when contrasted with the tart rhubarb. Each bite was a pleasant mixture of tart rhubarb and sweet vanilla yogurt. I imagine that the rhubarb mixture would also go well on vanilla ice cream (warm even), or rice pudding or tapioca pudding etc. I enjoyed the rhubarb fool as a dessert and the leftovers as my breakfast yogurt.

Smoked Salmon Pasta

Smoked Salmon Pasta

I had a bit of smoked salmon left over and I wanted to try something different with it. I remembered seeing a post about a smoked salmon pasta that had looked tasty. This recipe pretty much just wrote itself. I started with a basic sauce of butter, shallots, garlic, white wine, lemon and cream. Of course dill goes really well with salmon and it is one of my favorite herbs so it went in. I had some locally grown seasonal asparagus and peas that I though would add a nice freshness and a touch of green. The sauce was easy to make and came together while the pasta was cooking. The smoked salmon pasta was pretty good! I would imagine that broiled or poached salmon would also work well in a dish like this. When heirloom tomatoes are in season I would like to try this dish again using the tomatoes instead of the asparagus and peas.

Chicken and Mango Guacamole Wrap

Chicken and Mango Guacamole Wrap

I recently came across a post about chicken papaya wraps that looked really good. I liked the sound of the papaya and avocado salsa which sounded a lot like guacamole with papaya to me. Avocados are something that I had been wanting to try using more often and this was the perfect chance. I had some mangoes on hand and I though that a mango guacamole would be tasty. I seasoned the chicken with some freshly ground chipotle chili powder to give it some heat and flavour. The wraps were as easy to put together as blending the guacamole and grilling the chicken. The mango guacamole was a nice combination of cool and creamy with a touch of heat. I really enjoyed it. I also tried the grilled chicken and mango guacamole in sandwich form and it was just as tasty though a bit messier. I look forward to trying the papaya guacamole version.

Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna Steak

Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna Steak

I had been seeing some really amazing photos of some barely seared tuna steaks around the blog sphere and I just had to try it. I like a nice barely seared beef steak and I was wondering what a tuna steak would be like. A few of the tuna steaks that I saw were crusted in sesame seeds which sounded pretty interesting. The tuna was really easy to make. You just crust the steak with sesame seeds and sear it for a few minutes on either side. You want to be careful not to over cook it as fully cooked tuna can be a bit dry. The seared tuna steak was really good. It was nice and moist and tender. The sesame seeds added a nice contrast in texture. I served the sesame crusted tuna on rice with some orange teriyaki sauce and some asparagus on the side.