Black Bean and Quinoa Chili

Black Bean and Quinoa Chili

Sometimes recipes can take on a life of their own. A while ago I came across a three bean chili recipe which sounded good and this week it made it onto my meal plan. It started out as a pretty simple bean chili but as the week went on I thought that it would be nice it there was some quinoa in it. Then I thought that some bell peppers would add some colour. As it came time to cook it I noticed that I had some zucchini in the fridge that needed finishing. And then there was that last cob of corn... Before I knew it my pot was full and I had only added one of the beans. What had started out as a three bean chili had quickly turned into a nice vegetables chili. Chilies like this are really easy to make and full of flavour. As far as the vegetables go, you can add whatever you want or whatever is in season. In the winter I like to add squash and in the summer there are so many options. I am particularly looking forward to fresh tomatillos as they add a ton of flavour. You can garnish chili with lots of different things and this time I went with some monterey jack cheese and green onions. One of my favorite things about making a chili is that there is a lot of leftovers that are convenient to bring to work for lunch.

Filbert Gateau with Praline and Buttercream

Filbert Gateau with Praline and Buttercream

This months Daring Bakers challenge was a filbert gateau with praline buttercream. When I first read the title of the challenge I was pleased as it sounded good. Unfortunately as I read the instructions I realized that I would not be able to complete the challenge as it was. The recipe called for grinding hazelnuts into a flour and grinding praline into a paste. I do not have a full food processor and my mini chopper is on its last legs and is not nearly capable of grinding nuts. I decided that I would at least try and come up with something and I was thinking that an almond themed cake would be nice.

Roasted Strawberry Salad with Baked Goat Cheese

Roasted Strawberry Salad with Baked Goat Cheese

Unfortunately this may well be my last strawberry post for a while. The strawberries were all but gone from the farmers market and there was this one last recipe that I just had to try. Goat cheese is one of my favorites but I had never even thought about breading it and baking it. I had also recently discovered the wonders of roasting strawberries and I thought they would go well with the baked goats cheese. Since the strawberries give off a lot of juice when roasting I used that juice as the base for the salad dressing. I like to add nuts to my salads and I thought that some toasted pecans would go well. This roasted strawberry and baked goats cheese salad was really good! I enjoyed the warm goats cheese with its slightly crisp coating and it went well with the roasted strawberries. The entire salad was covered in the amazing flavour of the roasted strawberry dressing. I have lingered on strawberries for long enough. It is time to move on to enjoying the new fruits and vegetables that are now available.

Grilled Artichokes with Lemon Aioli

Grilled Artichokes with Lemon Aioli

Not long after I started food blogging I came across the concept of artichokes. They looked pretty interesting and I wanted to try them but it seemed that I had missed them. Not too long ago I was in the grocery store when I saw some and I picked them up right away. I had bookmarked several artichoke recipes and the one that most interested me was the grilled artichokes with lemon aioli by Proud Italian Cook . I was not too sure which bits you were supposed to eat and which you were not supposed to eat but I stumbled through it. Artichokes require a bit of prep work. First, the outer leaves can be prickly so you want to trim them with scissors. The fuzzy centers and scratchy leaves near the center are also removed. The "heart" of the artichoke is then cooked. The base of the leaves is eaten along with the part that the leaves are attached to. Although it was a bit of work to cleanup/prep the artichokes it was a fun experience and the results were worth it. I enjoyed the artichokes and look forward to using them again.


Chicken and Cashew Curry

Chicken and Cashew Curry

For my next experiment with garam masala I wanted to try a more complex dish and I was thinking about a curry. I wanted a curry with a fairly simple flavour profile so as to not loose the garam masala in the mix. I went through my bookmarks and came across this recipe for chicken and cashew curry by Sunita of Sunita's World... . I also liked this recipe as it called for some saffron as I had picked some up but I had yet to use it. This curry called for ground cashews but my poor mini chop food processor is on its last legs and is not capable of grinding nuts. Luckily I had some cashew butter and used that along with some whole cashews instead. This recipe was interesting in that it uses no oil. Instead everything is simmered together which makes it super simple to make. It turned out pretty good. The garam masala added a nice aroma and spiciness and the chili flakes added some heat. I liked the creaminess that the cashew butter and yogurt added. So far I have been enjoying the garam masala.

Asparagus with Garam Masala, Butter and Toasted Hazelnuts



For my first use of the garam masala that I had just made I wanted something that showed off the garam masala. Many recipes that use garam masala look like it might get lost in all of the other flavours so I wanted something pretty simple. I remembered seeing Jaden's recipe for green beans with garam masala butter and toasted hazelnuts which sounded like a nice way to fully experience the flavour of the garam masala. There was still a bit of local asparagus at the farmers market and I decided to swap out the green beans for asparagus. The asparagus with garam masala, butter and toasted hazel nuts turned out pretty good. I also liked the crunch that the hazelnuts added to the dish. I really like that such simple dishes can turn out so good. The garam masala had an amazing aroma and tasted just as good. With the first experiment with garam masala a success I am looking forward to trying it in a more complex dish.

Garam Masala

Garam Masala

I have been wanting to try getting into more Indian cuisine for a while now. The one thing that I noticed right away was that a lot of recipes called for garam masala. Garam masala is a blend of ground "warm" spices and I figured that it would be a nice place to start exploring Indian cuisine. Finding a recipe for garam masala turned out to be a bit more difficult than I thought it would be as there seems to be an infinite number of variations. I looked through a many of them and decided to go with a pretty basic blend of some of the more common components of the garam masalas that I had seen. I have learned that it is a good idea to toast the spices to bring out their flavour. Once the garam masala was all toasted and ground it had a really nice aroma. The garam masala at this stage did have a nice warm taste to it. It was fun toasting and grinding up my own garam masala and now I look forward to using it.

Zucchini Bread with Roasted Red Peppers and Feta

Zucchini Bread with Roasted Red Peppers and Feta, Slice

The farmers market was overflowing with zucchini on the weekend and I picked some up. Ever since I discovered quick bread I have wanted to try making a zucchini quick bread. Though zucchini are typically available all year round I had been waiting for it to be in season locally and now was my chance. I had been wanting to try a savoury zucchini bread but when I searched the web I was not able to find many savoury zucchini bread recipes and none of the ones that I did find interested me. I was a bit disappointed but it was no problem as I always enjoy coming up with my own recipes. I started with one of my banana bread recipes as a base and dropped all of the sugar and spices. Of course, the bananas were replaced with zucchini and I added some roasted red peppers, garlic, feta and oregano for some flavour. Since balsamic vinegar goes well with roasted red peppers I added some of that as well. The next step was to replace the butter with olive oil to make it a bit healthier. Since I was adding a lot of solids to the recipe I cut back a bit on the flour and replaced some of it with whole wheat flour. With that, I had my recipe for a savoury zucchini bread.

Hummus

Hummus

Hummus is a dip or a spread that is made from chickpeas, lemon, tahini, olive oil and garlic. You can add extras to hummus like spices such as cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, etc. or you can add some herbs or even things like roasted red peppers or sundried tomatoes etc. The possibilities are seemingly endless. Not only is hummus is super easy to make but it is also fairly healthy and it tastes great. I really enjoy the flavour and the creamy texture of hummus and I make it fairly often. I like using hummus as a dip for pitas and vegetables and as a spread on crostini or in sandwiches. This time I made a basic hummus and I served it on whole wheat crostini with some roasted red peppers and balsamic vinegar. I was planning of placing a leaf of basil under the roasted red pepper but I forgot to pick up the basil at the store. How do you use hummus?

Strawberry and Nutella Crepes

Strawberry and Nutella Crepes

There were fewer strawberries at the farmers market this weekend. It would seem that strawberry season is coming to a close. I am a bit sad to see the strawberries going, but they are making way for other good things. There were still a few strawberry recipes on my to do list though. On the top of the list was strawberry and Nutella (a chocolate hazelnut spread) crepes. I have been enjoying crepes every since I first made them and they are fairly easy to make. They are perfect for a weekend breakfast, being as simple as making some crepes and stuffing them with some goodies. The strawberry and nutella crepes turned out really good. I enjoyed the strawberry and nutella combo! Though, I can't think of a fruit that wouldn't go with nutella. I sprinkled the crepes with some chopped pistachios for some colour and a bit of texture.

Fried Calamari

Fried Calamari

The other day when I was at the fishmongers I noticed that they had some calamari or squid. I had been wanting to try calamari for a while so I picked some up immediately. As luck would have it the calamari was already cleaned up, so there was less work for me. Whenever I have seen calamari it had always been served fried so I decided to go with fried calamari for the first time. I kept it simple and dredged the calamari in a simple mixture of flour, salt and pepper. Making the fried calamari was as easy as making french fries. The calamari was nice and crispy on the outside and warm and moist and slightly chewy on the inside. I quite enjoyed the texture and chewiness of the calamari. I served the fried calamari with some tartar sauce and some slices of lemon. I wonder what other things I can use calamari in?

Grilled Asparagus, Zucchini and Halloumi Salad

Grilled Asparagus, Zucchini and Halloumi Salad

When I saw this recipe for grilled asparagus zucchini and halloumi salad I knew that I would have to try it. I like to grill and roast vegetables and this grilled salad sounded really good. As luck would have it, the farmers market is filled with fresh local zucchini. I had recently tried using pesto in a salad and I was thinking that it would go really well in this one. My favorite part of this salad though was the grilled halloumi! I recently tried frying halloumi for saganaki and really enjoyed its texture and flavour. This salad took a bit of effort to put together but it was relatively easy to do. The grilled asparagus, zucchini and halloumi salad was really good! It was nice and fresh and summery. I liked the combination of warm and cool components.

Sweet Potato Wedges

Sweet Potato Wedges

The other day I made french fries at home for the first time and they turned out great. I have seen a few posts about baking fries and I wanted to try it and compare them to fried fries. I thought that sweet potatoes would go well with the spicy bulgogi burgers and I thought that cutting them as wedges would allow them stand up and bake nicely on both sides. Baking fries seems to be as easy as tossing the cut potatoes with some some oil along with any spices and/or herbs that you desire. In keeping with the Korean theme of the meal I baked the potatoes with some Korean red chili flakes known as gochugaru. The baked sweet potato wedges turned out really well. They were not as crisp as the fried fries but they were slightly crisp and the insides were nice and soft and warm and sweet and good. I served the sweet potato wedges with some ketchup with gochujang mixed in. The gochujang ketchup was really good. The sweetness of the ketchup paired well with the spiciness and flavour of the gochujang. Overall I really liked the baked sweet potato wedges.

Gochujang Sauce

Gochujang Dressing

I have really been enjoying this gochujang sauce a lot as of late. Gochujang is a Korean condiment made from chilies and fermented rice and soy beans. It is spicy hot and it has a really nice flavour. This sauce compliments the flavour and the heat of the gochujang with the tartness of rice wine vinegar, the saltiness of soy sauce and the sweetness of brown sugar and the toasted sesame oil adds an amazing aroma. The idea is to balance each of the aspects in the sauce to form something that is simply amazing. I have been enjoying this as a sauce on bibimbap , as a dressing o bibimguksu and in this case on some simple steamed asparagus. I served the steamed asparagus with gochujang dressing as a side for my bulgogi burger . The sauce also makes for a great Korean style BBQ sauce that is an excellent way to use up some leftover pulled pork or shredded chicken.

Bulgogi Burgers

Bulgogi Burger

A while ago I made some bulgogi that I really enjoyed and I remembered thinking that a bulgogi burger would be a good idea. Bulgogi is a Korean dish of meat that is marinated in a sweet and salty marinade and then cooked over fire. Now that summer is here, it was the perfect time to try out my idea. I started with ground beef and the marinade from the bulgogi recipe. There was a lot of liquid in the bulgogi marinade, far too much for burgers, so I tried to reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe. I then went with the tried and true burger binding of an egg and some bread crumbs. The bulgogi burgers turned out really good! They held together nicely and yet they were super moist and just full of flavour. I of course had to have some of my homemade kimchi in the bulgogi burgers and it added even more flavour and a bit of heat. I served the bulgogi burgers with some baked sweet potato wedges and some steamed asparagus in a gochujang sauce .

Shrimp and Avocado in Tamarind Sauce

Shrimp and Avocado in Tamarind Sauce

A long time ago I picked up a small jar of tamarind concentrate to try. Since the one time that I used it, it has been sitting at the back of my fridge, forgotten. I recently came across a recipe for shrimp and avocados in a tamarind sauce that sounded good and reminded me of that little jar of tamarind concentrate lost in my fridge. Tamarind is tart and it works well in dishes where you are trying to get a nice balance of sweet, salty, sour and spicy. The prawn and avocados in a tamarind sauce came together quickly and easily. This dish was pretty tasty and I really enjoyed the tamarind flavour. The avocado added a nice coolness and creaminess to the dish. Jasmine rice is quickly becoming one of my favorite rices for its aroma and flavour and I enjoy cooking it in coconut milk to add an extra layer of flavour. I served this dish on coconut jasmine rice and the tamarind sauce mixed in with the coconut rice was a nice flavour combination. I am looking forward to using tamarind again and I will have to keep an eye out to see if I can see some fresh tamarind to try.

Strawberry Rice Pudding with Balsamic Syrup

Strawberry Rice Pudding with Balsamic Syrup

I have been enjoying making rice pudding ever since I discovered it not too long ago. While the local strawberries were in season I knew that I would have to try a strawberry rice pudding. I was thinking about several different ways of making a strawberry rice pudding and decided to go with a simple plain white rice pudding with large pieces of fresh strawberries. Balsamic vinegar goes really well with strawberries and I thought that serving the strawberry rice pudding with a balsamic syrup on top would be nice. I also sprinkled some chopped pistachios on top to add some colour and a contrasting texture. Rice pudding is pretty easy to make and if your rice maker has a porridge setting it is even easier. The strawberry rice pudding with balsamic syrup was really good. The slightly tart balsamic syrup was a perfect compliment to the sweet strawberry pudding. I prefer to chill rice pudding in the fridge before eating it but sometimes I just can't wait; luckily it is good warm.

Asparagus and Zucchini Farro Salad

Asparagus and Zucchini Farro Salad

I have been making basil pesto for a while, but up until recently I had only been using it for pasta. When I came across the idea of using pesto in a dish like tilapia with pesto and roasted tomatoes , it opened my mind to new possibilities. When I was at the farmers market they had big bunches of basil that I just could not pass up on. I was thinking that a whole grain salad with a pesto dressing would be a good idea. At the farmers market I also found some of the first of the locally grown zucchini and they still had some asparagus and my salad was taking form. Since the zucchini and asparagus were so fresh I decided to simply blanch them and enjoy their freshness. I like to complete my salads with beans, nuts and cheese. I was also planning on adding some fresh peas but I completely forgot. This salad was pretty easy to throw together and is was nice and fresh and summery and good! The basil pesto worked really well in the salad the lemon juice brightened everything up. I am looking forward to discovering more ways to enjoy pesto.

Chips (French Fries)

Chips (French Fries)

The final part of my fish and chips meal was the chips. Given the number of restaurants that don't seem to be able to get french fries right, I was expecting them to be rather difficult to make. I like my fries nice and golden brown and slightly crispy on the outside and soft, warm and creamy on the inside. I had heard that a good way to get nice and crispy fries was to fry them twice. The idea is that you fry the hard raw potato slices until they are soft and floppy and remove them from the oil. The temperature of the oil is then increased and the fries are fried a second time. Since I don't have a deep fryer I used a large sauce pan filled with oil and I estimated the temperatures. I was a little bit surprised that the chips came out really well; They were just how I like them. I enjoyed the chips with salt and malt vinegar and I dipped a few of them into the tartar sauce . They really made the fish and chips meal complete. In the future, when I have a craving for chips I will be able to satisfy it at home.

Coleslaw

Coleslaw

When I think about salads, cabbage is not the first thing that comes to mind but it can be used to make some good salads. Coleslaw is perhaps the most common cabbage based salad. There are many recipes for coleslaw but at its base it seems to be shredded cabbage, carrots, mayonnaise, white wine vinegar and sugar. Coleslaw is also a common side served with fish and chips so I included it in my fish and chips dinner. I made a few substitutions and additions to my coleslaw. Since I was already using dill in the meal and I had some left over I decided to add some to the cole slaw. This creamy dilled coleslaw was good and it went well with the fish and chips dinner.

Tartar Sauce

Tartar Sauce

Fish and chips just isn't the same without tartar sauce! Although there are a lot of different recipes out there, tartar sauce is commonly made from mayonnaise, chopped capers and chopped dill pickles. Since there is already dill pickle in the mix I like to add some dill which is of one of my favorite herbs. I like the way that lemon juice really brightens up mayonnaise and it does a great job of it in tartar sauce. When eating fish and chips I like to dip both the fish and the chips into the tartare sauce. Tartar sauce also goes really well with a lot of other seafood dishes. The addition of some tartar sauce makes a quick and tasty fish dish. I also like to add tartar sauce to things like crab cakes or other seafood patties in addition to serving it on the side or on top.

Beer Battered Fish (Fish and Chips)

Guinness Battered Cod

Since I started food blogging I have not been eating out nearly as often. When I was eating out it was commonly at pubs and every once in a while I get a craving for pub food. One of my favorite things to order at a pub is fish and chips. Up until now I have not tried to make fish and chips at home as I was worried about deep frying. It had been too long since I last had fish and chips and I was craving it. It was time to try making fish and chips at home! I had seen the fish described as being beer battered on several menus and I wanted to try making beer battered fish. I went with cod for the fish but you could use pretty much any white fish such as haddock or halibut, etc. For the beer I went with Guinness and it gave the batter a nice dark colour. I was surprised by how easy the Guinness battered cod was to make! The batter was nice and light and crispy and the fish was moist and tender and so good! To complete the pub fish and chips experience, I served the fish with chips , cole slaw , tartar sauce , lemon slices, malt vinegar and of course a pint of Guinness.

Peanut Butter, Banana and Honey Sandwiches

Peanut Butter, Banana and Honey Sandwiches

Ever since I came across the peanut butter, banana and honey combo I have been enjoying it in many different ways. The simplest, perhaps, is as a sandwich. All you really need is a slice of bread (or two) slathered with some stick to the roof of your mouth good peanut butter, piled high with bananas all dripping with sweet, sticky honey. I have used this combo as open faced sandwiches, regular sandwiches and I even tried buttering the bread and grilling it. The grilled peanut butter, banana and honey sandwich was particularly good with the peanut butter melting a bit and dripping all over. The messier the better! I have been eating them for breakfast, lunch, snack or even as a quick light meal.

Roasted Strawberry and Asparagus Quinoa Salad

Roasted Strawberry and Asparagus Quinoa Salad

I recently came across the concept of roasting strawberries. The idea of roasting strawberries came as a bit of a surprise as I had never even considered it. I like roasting vegetables because it concentrates the flavour and there was no reason that it could not do the same for strawberries. I have recently been enjoying quinoa salads and I thought that a savoury roasted strawberry quinoa salad would be a good place to start experimenting with roasted strawberries. Since strawberries and asparagus generally in season together I thought that adding asparagus would be fitting. Balsamic vinegar goes well with strawberries and I thought that roasting the strawberries in balsamic vinegar would be nice. I also figured that the strawberry juices combined with the balsamic vinegar would make a nice base for a dressing. The roasted strawberry and asparagus quinoa salad turned out to be really tasty! I really enjoyed the roasted strawberries and they were full of flavour. The balsamic dressing went really well with the roasted strawberries and the garlic added a nice bite. I can't wait to use roasted strawberries again.

Jerked Chicken with Mango and Avocado Salad

Jerked Chicken with Mango and Avocado Salad

When I made the jerk chicken a while ago I ended up with a lot of extra jerk marinade. I have been enjoying having the extra marinade around because it has made for some quick and tasty meals. I was looking for a light meal and I thought; What better than a salad with some jerked chicken? Juicy ripe mangoes were the next thing to come to mind for the salad. Lately I have been enjoying avocados and I thought that they would add a nice bit of relief to the heat of the jerk chicken. I have also been experimenting using beans in salads lately and this time I went with some kidney beans, though black beans also crossed my mind. The salad ended up being quite good. The avocados and sweet mangoes complemented the heat of the spicy chicken nicely.

Cod with Strawberry Salsa

Cod with Strawberry Salsa

I got a few too many strawberries and I needed to use them. I was thinking that a white fish with a strawberry salsa would be nice. At first I was going to go with a more standard salsa with jalapeno, cumin and cilantro but then I thought that balsamic vinegar goes well with strawberries. I ended up with a strawberry and balsamic vinegar salsa to go with the fish which turned out to be cod. There is still a lot of fresh local asparagus so I finished the meal off with some of that. Nothing says Spring like asparagus and strawberries! It turned out to be a really nice light and fresh lunch.

Mango and Rhubarb Crumble

Mango and Rhubarb Crumble

When I was younger I did not care for mangoes but I recently discovered that I like them... a lot. I have really been enjoying the mangoes lately, especially the mango crumble that I made a while ago. It was so good that I wanted to make it again. I had also been thinking about a strawberry and rhubarb crumble . After thinking for a while I decided to try combining mangoes and rhubarb in a mango and rhubarb crumble. I figured that the sweet mangoes would go well with the tart rhubarb. I went with a pretty basic recipe and added some grated ginger and coconut to make it a bit more exotic. The mango and rhubarb crisp turned out really well! The sweet mango and tart rhubarb and the hint of coconut was a really tasty flavour combination. Of course melting vanilla ice went really well with it!

Coconut Shrimp with Apricot Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce

Coconut Shrimp with Apricot Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce

I came across coconut shrimp a while ago and I really liked the sound of them but I was not too sure about deep frying so I bookmarked them to try later. I recently came across them again and now that I am more comfortable with deep frying it was time to try them. The coconut shrimp were really easy to make. They follow the standard frying steps of dredging in flour, dipping in egg and bread crumbs and of course, in this case, the coconut. The coconut shrimp were really good! They were nice and crispy on the outside and warm and succulent on the inside with a hint of coconut. I served the coconut prawns with a sweet chili sauce with some apricot preserves mixed in for a bit of a sweet and spicy kick.

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

You may have noticed, based on the number of posts, that I really like strawberries. I had been looking forward to strawberry season for a while and I built up a rather long list of things that I wanted to try. Cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts and I had been thinking that a strawberry cheesecake ice cream would be good. The idea was pretty simple, a custard based ice cream with chunks of strawberries, cream cheese and graham cracker crust. Of course, if you happen to have a slice of cheesecake lying around you could just crumble it into the ice cream. For the crust I just made a simple graham cracker crust and crumbled it. I was a bit worried that the graham cracker crust crumbs would get crushed in the ice cream maker so I added them half way through the freezing process hoping that they would stick together better. The strawberry cheesecake ice cream turned out really well! You could taste and feel the difference in texture of the chunks of strawberries, cream cheese and the graham cracker crust.


Teriyaki Black Cod Burger

Teriyaki Black Cod Burger

Sandwiches and burgers have been on my mind more often as of late. I had seen a few recipes for salmon burgers that sounded tasty but there was one problem; they called for grinding the salmon to form a patty. I didn't really want to grind up a perfectly good piece of salmon so I decided to just use the salmon as it comes. I could just imagine a warm and juicy salmon burger dripping with tasty teriyaki sauce! But the burger needed something more. The easy ones were the lettuce, and tomato and I though that salty bacon would go well with the teriyaki sauce. A while ago I made some teriyaki shiitake mushrooms and I thought that they would go perfectly in the burger. I thought that my sandwich was complete and then another idea struck; tangy blue cheese melting into the warm teriyaki mushrooms would be perfect! Of course I had to go with my favorite bun, a ciabatta bun. When I was at the fish monger I saw some black cod which I had been meaning to try and I changed plans and went with a black cod teriyaki burger. The burger was a bit of effort to put together but it was well worth it. The teriyaki black cod burger with sauteed teriyaki shiitake mushrooms and blue cheese was amazing. All of the flavours combined well, contrasting and complementing each other. The black cod was excellent. It had a texture that was similar to that of salmon and it was really tasty done up in the teriyaki sauce.