Eggplant and Mozzarella Panini

Eggplant and Mozzarella Panini

I had some eggplant leftover form earlier in the week and I was wondering what to do with it. When came across this recipe for a mozzarella and eggplant panini on Passionate Eater I knew that I had found my answer. Warm sauteed eggplant with gooey melted mozzarella cheese and marinara sauce all wrapped up in the form of a grilled sandwich! How could you go wrong with that? One of the reasons that I chose this recipe was that it would have me use up some of the marinara sauce that was in my freezer. Normally I do not like to saute eggplant in oil as it soaks up a lot of oil but when I was thinking about this sandwich it sounded like that was an essential component. (Normally I would broil my eggplant until golden grown and nice and tender.) The eggplant and mozzarella sandwich was really easy to make and tasted great! I do not have a panini maker so I just used a grill pan and pressed down on the sandwich with the bottom of a bowl. Luckily I have enough eggplant leftover for another of these sandwiches tomorrow.

Blue Cheese Dip

Blue Cheese Dip


I wanted something to dip my fried mushrooms into and for some reason I kept coming back to a blue cheese dip. I was not quite sure if it would go with the curried fried mushrooms but it was the perfect excuse to enjoy some gorgonzola. I looked at a bunch of recipes for blue cheese dips and though a many of them had a lot more ingredients they all seemed to have a base of blue cheese, mayonnaise ans sour cream. Since I wanted to really enjoy the gorgonzola I decided to stick with this simple recipe though it did not take much to convince me to add some dill which is one of my favorite herbs. You could easily replace the dill with your favorite herb or leave it out completely. The dip is really easy to make, you just puree it in a food processor. You can leaves it as chunky as you like it or you can make it super smooth. I decided to leave it a bit chunkier so that I would get nice pieces of gorgonzola in it. The gorgonzola blue cheese dip turned out great! If you like blue cheese then this is the dip for you. The gorgonzola dip went well with the crispy curried fried mushrooms and the little dip that was left over disappeared quite quickly. (A finger and a tongue were not involved.) I wonder what else I coup enjoy this dip with?

Curried Fried Mushrooms

Curried Fried Mushrooms


I am a mushroom fanatic! The other day a recipe for fried curried mushrooms on Indonesia-Eats caught my attention. I really liked the sound of deep frying mushrooms and I was surprised that I had never thought of it before. As if they did not sound good enough already, they were also curried! I don't deep fry very often but I just had to try deep frying mushrooms! In an effort to ensure a nice and crispy coating I decided to go with a heavier batter and a panko breadcrumb coating. While I was thinking about the fried mushrooms and what kind of dipping sauce to enjoy them with I kept coming back to a gorgonzola blue cheese dipping sauce which I decided to go with. The curried deep fries mushrooms turned out great! They were nice and light and crispy on the outside and the mushrooms were nice and moist and warm and mushroomy good on the inside. Each bite of these crispy, crunchy curried mushrooms was magical...mmm... The blue cheese dip went really well with the fried mushroom finishing off a perfect appetizer!

Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad

Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad


I have been enjoying using quinoa since I first discovered it and my favorite way to use it is in salads. I am always on the lookout for new quinoa salad recipes and I recently came across this one for a quinoa salad with roasted vegetables in my bookmarks. This salad sounded almost perfect. I really like roasting vegetables and this salad is full of roasted vegetables. It also called for marinated artichoke hearts and I had a jar that I had just been itching to try. I did not have any sun dried tomatoes and since we were roasting all of the other vegetables I thought that there was no reason to not roast the red pepper as well. I also decided to add a simple balsamic vinaigrette for even more flavour. The roasted vegetable quinoa salad was nice and easy to make and it was super tasty and good! It was a nice light and healthy change after all of the heavy meals that I had been having lately.

Lasagna

Lasagna

Lasagna was one of my all time favorite childhood meals. I had been holding off trying to make one by myself for some reason but the cravings finally got the better of me and I had to make one. A lasagna at its base is a dish that is made of layers of sheets of pasta with various fillings in between each layer. The more common lasagne often have layers of tomato sauce or meat sauce and layers of cheese. The cheese layers are often made from ricotta or a bechamel sauce but I had always had it made with cottage cheese so that is how I decided to go with mine. For the meat sauce I kept it simple and I added some ground beef to a simple marinara sauce . I also had some leftover Italian sausage in the freezer that needed finishing so I added those as well. I like using Italian in soups and sauces as they add a ton of flavour. With that I pretty much had everything. Because you have to make a meat sauce and a cheese mixture and cook the noodles and assemble the lasagna and then bake it, it takes a bit of effort and time and it is best suited for a weekend. Despite the effort that it takes it is well worth it! It is really hard to beat a baked pasta dish with a golden brown layer of melted cheese on top. Layers of a tasty tomato and meat sauce and layers of savoury melted gooey cheese make it even better. I served my lasagna with some garlic bread and a salad. One of the things that I like most about making lasagna is all of the leftovers. I have enough leftovers for lunches and dinners for the rest of the week and beyond. This will be a tasty week indeed.

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie


I have been hearing about key lime pies for a while and I have been wanting to try one. Unfortunately I had been unable to find them, that is until last week. I was bit surprised when I saw them at the grocery store and I grabbed a bag of them immediately. A key lime pie is a pie that is made with key lime juice, egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk and a pie crust. The leftover egg whites are commonly used to make a meringue topping. I decided to skip the meringue topping to keep things simple and the pie was really easy to make. Once you have a pie crust you pretty much just need to mix everything and then bake. The hardest part was juicing all of those little key limes. The key lime pie turned out great! It was a little bitter on the first day but it mellowed out nicely on the second day. The key lime pie was nice and cool and creamy and full of an amazing lime flavour. I served the key lime pie with whipped cream. The sweetness of the whipped cream and the graham cracker crust went well with the tartness of the key lime pie. This pie is disappearing quickly!

Green Bean and Mushroom Poutine

Green Bean and Mushroom Poutine


The next thing that I came across while cleaning out my freezer was some leftover gravy from the pot roast that I made a while ago. As soon as I found the gravy memories of the sweet potato poutine came back and I was craving more. I remembered hearing about a vegetable version of poutine that replaced the fries with other vegetables. I was thinking that this was a good idea and the first thing that came to mind was green beans as they have a shape that is similar to fries. Some sauteed mushrooms sounded like they would finish off the dish nicely. The green bean and sauteed mushroom poutine turned out great! I guess you really can't go wrong with smothering any vegetable with cheese curds and tasty gravy. The green beans make this decadent treat just a bit leas unhealthy than the fries would have been. :)

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie


While I was going through my freezer I came across a bunch of shredded cooked chicken which was quite fortuitous as I had recently been thinking of a chicken pot pie that I remembered eating at my grandmothers house when I was a kid. With such perfect timing I thought that I would just have to try making a chicken pot pie. A chicken pot pie is pretty simple savoury pie containing chicken, vegetables, and a creamy sauce. You can make the pie with a top and bottom crust or just the top crust or you can even use biscuits to form a crust. Since I wanted to work on my pie crust skills I decided to go with the full pie crust. For the filling, I wanted a lot of vegetables and some thyme and on a last minute whim I decided to throw in some miso for some extra flavour. I was a bit worried as I have not had much luck with pie crusts, but the chicken pot pie turned out surprisingly well. The crust was my best so far, though I still need to work on my crimping skills. It was nice and light and flaky and crispy and golden brown and buttery and good! The filling was really tasty and the miso worked well in it. I am a bit surprised that something so simple can be so good. This is comfort food at its best!

Parmesan Crusted Baked Zucchini Sticks with Marinara Sauce

Parmesan Crusted Baked Zucchini Sticks with Marinara Sauce

I have been tying to clear some space in my freezer lately and I came across some marinara sauce that I had made a while ago. It is always nice to have some marinara sauce on hand and it freezes well so I tend to always have some in the freezer. Going through my bookmarks I came across a tasty looking recipe for baked zucchini sticks on For the Love of Cooking that sounded like a tasty way to enjoy the marinara sauce. I liked this recipe because it used courgettes and because they were baked or roasted rather than fried. These baked parmesan crusted zucchini sticks were easy to make and turned out great. They were golden brown and crunchy on the outside and nicely roasted on the inside. The zucchini sticks were tasty by themselves but they were even better when dipped in the marinara sauce.

Shrimp Bisque

Shrimp Bisque
You have probably noticed that I am a bit of a shrimp fanatic and I am constantly on the lookout for new ways to enjoy shrimp. A while ago I came across a recipe for shrimp bisque on Kalofagas (originally from the Toronto Star by Marion Kane) that sounded like it might just be the ultimate shrimp dish. This soup uses shrimp in no less than 4 different ways. The shells are simmered in the broth to release their flavour, the body of the soup contains pureed shrimp, chopped shrimp and whole shrimp for garnish. I looked at a few recipes for shrimp bisque and I ended up choosing this one because I like the fact that the shrimp were sauteed in butter and then the pan was deglazed with wine to pick up the extra shrimp flavour. The recipe looks a bit long but don't let that intimidate you as the results are well worth he effort! The shrimp bisque was amazing! It was nice and thick and rich and creamy and full of shrimp flavour. I really enjoyed the texture that the pureed shrimp added to the soup and the every spoonful was filled with juicy succulent chunks of shrimp that were burst in your mouth good.

White Cheddar and Garlic Mashed Potatoes

White Cheddar and Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Creamy mashed potatoes make for a great side dish. They are so easy to make and they are addictively good. Although simple buttery mashed potatoes are great, mashed potatoes are pretty much a blank slate, just begging for flavour to be added. Common additions to mashed potatoes include butter, creams, cheeses, herbs, etc. One of the things that I like about mashed potatoes is that the soak up the other flavours on the plate making them even better. It was with this in mind that I chose to serve mashed potatoes with my steak in pink peppercorn sauce dinner. I served the steak on the mashed potatoes so that some of the sauce would drip onto them and after the steak was gone they worked perfectly to soak up all of the excess sauce on the plate. I had some really sharp white cheddar cheese and I thought that it would go perfectly in the mashed potatoes along with some garlic that had mellowed out by simmering with the potatoes. I used some of those small new potatoes with the red skin and I left the skins on to add a bit of colour and texture to the mashed potatoes. The white cheddar and garlic mashed potatoes were nice and warm and creamy and full of flavour and they went really well with the steak dinner.

Molten Chocolate Cake

Molten Chocolate Cake

For a while now I have been seeing posts about chocolate cakes that are solid on the outside but have a liquid chocolate inside. How good does that sound?!? A dark chocolate cake with a melted liquidy chocolate center! I have been wanting to try them since I first saw them but I thought that they would probably be difficult to make. With it being that chocolate time of year it was the perfect time to roll up my sleeves and get to it. The molten chocolate cakes turned out to be pretty easy to make. The recipe reminded me a lot of a souffle with the egg yolks being mixed into the main batter and the beaten egg whites that are then folded in. The cakes also baked like a souffle, rising a lot and then deflating quickly as they cooled. The molten chocolate cakes turned out great! They were just baked solid on the out side and still liquid on the inside! Both the solid outside and liquid center were nice and light and fluffy and so good! I really liked how the cakes were not sweet and that the nice slightly bitter dark chocolate flavour came through really well.

Steak Tenderloin in a Pink Peppercorn Sauce

Steak Tenderloin in Pink Peppercorn Sauce


Not too long ago I discovered green peppercorns and I enjoyed them in a steak with green peppercorn sauce dish. Since then I had been keeping an eye out for peppercorns and I recently came across some brined pink peppercorns. What a perfect excuse to enjoy another steak! This time I envisioned a perfectly seared steak covered in a red wine and pink peppercorn sauce with shallots and some green parsley for a nice contrasting colour. The steak with pink peppercorns turned out to be another one of those meals that was quick and easy and tasted great! Where the green peppercorns were softer and milder the pink peppercorns were harder and stronger. Combined with the crushed black peppercorns this steak was really peppery, which I liked. (If you are not a huge fan of pepper you should cut down on the amount of both peppercorns.) I really enjoyed the slightly hard texture of the pink peppercorns and getting that nice burst of pepper when biting into them. I served the steak in pink peppercorn sauce on a bed of white cheddar and garlic mashed potatoes along with a simple salad.

Wild Mushroom and Double Smoked Bacon Linguine

Wild Mushroom and Double Smoked Bacon Linguine


Mushrooms are one of my all time favorite foods and one of my favorite ways to enjoy mushrooms is in a quick and tasty pasta with bacon, cream and cheese. I had not had this dish in a while and I was recently reminded of it by a post on Butter and Sugar for spaghetti with mushrooms and bacon . I stopped by the market on the weekend to pick up the ingredients and I came home with a combination of shiitake, cremini and oyster mushrooms. While I was walking by the butchers shop I noticed that they were selling bacon that they had made and I wondered how it would compare to the store bought vacuum sealed packages that I normally use. They had a few different types and I thought that I would start by trying the double smoked variety. This meal comes together in under 20 minutes and the results are always good. You just can't go wrong with creamy sauteed mushrooms, salty bacon and cheese! The double smoked bacon was pretty good. It was thicker and not nearly as fatty as the vacuum sealed and it did have a nice hint of smokiness which went nicely with the mushrooms and pasta.

Shrimp and Pineapple Teriyaki

Shrimp and Pineapple Teriyaki


I had a bunch of pineapple leftover after making my croque hawaii and I remembered how much I enjoyed the pineapple and teriyaki combination in the grilled teriyaki chicken and pineapple sandwich that I had had a while ago. Speaking of teriyaki, I had also been wanting to try shrimp teriyaki and I thought that a shrimp and pineapple teriyaki would be really good. I kept this recipe nice and simple with pretty much just shrimp, pineapple and teriyaki sauce. I worked the pineapple into the dish in three ways; I mixed some pineapple juice into the teriyaki marinade, I used big slices of the pineapple to complement the shrimp and I used some pureed pineapple to thicken up the body of the sauce. The shrimp and pineapple teriyaki turned out great! The sweet, tangy and juicy just warmed pineapple went really well with the succulent shrimp and the sweet and salty teriyaki sauce rounded out the flavours of the dish nicely.

Croque Hawaii

Croque Hawaii


I discovered the croque monsieur a while ago and I have been enjoying them ever since. A croque monsieur is basically a glorified grilled ham and cheese sandwich covered with bechamel sauce and melted golden brown cheese. More recently I came across the concept of a croque hawaii or a croque monsieur with the addition of a slice of pineapple which sounded good. Now that I had some nice quality ham on hand was the perfect time to try it. The croque hawaii was pretty easy to make and it turned out great! The ham and pineapple combo is a classic one for a reason and it really worked well in this sandwich. A bechamel sauce is so simple and yet when it is infused with cheese it is so good. The cheesy bechamel sauce smothering this sandwich sends it way over the top, though it also makes it a bit messier to eat and using a knife and fork is recommended.

Gingersnap Cookies

Gingersnap Cookies


For the ham crusted in mustard and gingersnaps I used store bought gingersnap cookies for convenience. I really enjoyed the gingersnap cookies and while I was snacking on the leftovers I thought: 'Why not make my own?' Gingersnap cookies are pretty simple and they derive they flavour from ground ginger and molasses. I had some candied or crystallized ginger left over from before and I decided to add some of that to half of the batch of cookies for even more ginger flavour. The gingersnap cookies took less than 20 minutes to make and they turned out great! I have really been enjoying ginger lately and these cookies really hit the spot. The candied ginger added a nice texture and even more gingery goodness. The cookies were a bit moister or cakier than the store bought ones but I liked them this way even more.

Potatoes au Gratin

Potato au Gratin

I was pretty busy on the weekend and I wanted a simple side for my ham dinner that did not require much hands on time. I was thinking that simple cheesy potatoes au gratin would fit the bill perfectly. The potato gratin only required a bit of work to assemble and then it went into the oven along with the ham for the last 30 minutes or so. It was pretty much a fix it, pop it in the oven and forget it dish. Not only was it simple to make but it also turned out great! It is really hard to beat warm potato slices drenched in cream and covered in melted cheese. I had been planning on giving it a crunchy panko bread crumb topping but I realized too late that I was out of the bread crumbs. I got the enjoy the perfectly burnt cheese topping instead this time. Now that I have some ham leftovers I think I am going to have to make another potato au gratin but this time with some chopped up ham in it.

Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup)

Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup)

A while ago I made a turkey pho using some homemade turkey stock and leftover turkey and I really enjoyed it. Pho is a Vietnamese rice noodle dish with a broth flavoured with star anise. The classical pho is made in a beef broth and is served with beef. Ever since I made the turkey pho I had been wanting to try making the traditional beef pho (or pho bo) from scratch. I started looking for a recipe in my bookmarks and the one that caught my attention was the one for pho bo on eatingclub vancouver . From there I amalgamated what I liked from a few different recipes to come up with this one.

Sichuan Peppercorn Shrimp

Sichuan Peppercorn Shrimp

I was looking for another quick and light meal and I was thinking about shrimp as they usually fit that bill. While I was eating the sichuan peppercorn steak that I made a while ago I thought that sichuan peppercorn shrimp would be a good idea. I have really been enjoying the mouth numbing sichuan peppercorns and I was looking forward to combining them with one of my favorite foods, shrimp. I just threw this recipe together as I was making it and my goal was to keep it nice and simple so that I could enjoy the succulent shrimp with the mouth numbing sichuan peppercorns and the spicy heat from the chilies. The first thing that I did was start by toasting the sichuan peppercorns in a frying pan and I was immediately rewarded by their amazing aroma which quickly filled my apartment. I finished the dish off with some sesame oil which made my place smell even better. These two smells always bring back memories of Asian cuisine and restaurants. The sichuan peppercorn shrimp came together quickly and easily and turned out really well! Shrimp is one of my favorite foods because it is amazing and because it is so easy to throw together a great meal really quickly with it. I served the shrimp on some fragrant jasmine rice which provided a welcome relief from the heat of the dish.

Salmon Noodle Soup

Salmon Noodle Soup

After all of the snacks that I had on the weekend I was looking forward to something lighter. A while ago when I made the chicken noodle soup I thought that an Asian style salmon noodle soup would be really nice and it was the perfect time to try it. When I think of salmon the first thing that usually comes to mind is salmon teriyaki which is my favorite way to enjoy salmon. Since I was going to have salmon in the soup I might as well take the opportunity to add some flavour so I decided to use salmon teriyaki for the salmon in the soup. This would be a great way to use up some leftover salmon teriyaki. For the noodles I decided to go with some nice thick udon noodles though I was also thinking about soba noodles. Given the Japanese flavours in the soup so far dashi was the natural base for the soup and of course miso was the next logical step. I rounded the soup off with some shiitake mushrooms and spinach. The salmon noodle soup was really easy to make and it turned out even better than I had hoped! All of the flavours came together really well. The slight sweetness of the teriyaki'd salmon went well with the saltiness of the miso. The soup was nice and filling and yet surprisingly light and good. I will be making this again!

Potato Skins

Potato Skins


For my next football snack I was thinking that potato skins would be nice. I have had potato skins a few times before and I had enjoyed them and now I wanted to try making them myself. Potato skins are the skins of potatoes where the middles have been scooped out that are baked with a filling. Though you can fill the potato skins with whatever you want the most common filling seems to be cheese and bacon often accompanied by some sour cream. In my opinion, you can't go wrong with cheese and bacon so that is what I went with. Potato skins are pretty easy to make though they require a some time to bake the potato. You could speed things up a bit by cooking the potato in the microwave instead of baking it before scooping out the middle. The potato skins with cheddar cheese and bacon turned out great! The skins were a little crispy along the edges and soft and warm in the middle. The cool sour cream went well with the warm potato skins and their flavourful filling. Another perfect snack for game day.