Roasted Tomato, Leek, and Fennel Soup

Soup is one of the good things in life. It warms our tummies and our souls. Each hot spoonful eases our minds and comforts us, embracing us with all its deep, rich, flavours. Soup is like a loving hug from the inside out. I’ve come to love all soups, in all the flavours and textures they come in.

IMG_8451

This a perfect day to post a soup recipe. I’m sick in bed with my sick-day crew: laptop, Puffs Plus Lotion tissues, and a cup of tea. I came across this recipe a couple weeks ago on deliciousness (re)visited and tried it out last night. It was the perfect recipe to test out while feeling under the weather because it’s simple and doesn’t require too much work (my perma-headache isn’t allowing too much brainwork). Continue reading

Parsnip Puree: A Mashed Potato Alternative To Die For

I love mashed potatoes! Garlic mashed potatoes? Even better. But I have to admit that sometimes while I’m mashing I feel like maybe there’s something a little more exciting or different I could be making. Something with the same texture and the same satisfying creaminess.

Well, I found the something! The something is REALLY GOOD. The something is PUREED PARSNIPS (plus a little potato). This is most definitely worth a try! It’s a slightly sweeter play on mashed potatoes, with the same satisfying richness. I seriously love this. Continue reading

Peace, Love, Perfect Guacamole.

Making a perfect guacamole is a really useful (and tasty) skill to have. This delicious Mexican dip is a healthy snack, a good appetizer, and a perfect addition to a pot luck or barbeque menu. This is one of the first dips I taught myself to make, because it’s one of my favourites. It’s one of everyone’s favourites!

IMG_7460

I’ve gotten so many compliments on my guac over the years. It is time I share my secret. (Not too much of a secret…it’s pretty simple, actually.)

A few important guacamole rules I live by:
1. RIPE AVOCADOS
2. NO GARLIC
3. USE CILANTRO
4. SAVE THE PITS

Your avocados have got to be ripe for maximum sweet, creamy, delicious avocado flavour and mashing potential. You can tell an avocado is ripe when its skin has darkened and it is soft when you squeeze it.

Here are some videos I found on youtube that might help if you have avocado problems:

Despite popular belief, authentic Mexican guacamole doesn’t include garlic. When people ask me why my guac tastes different from theirs…it’s usually the garlic. So, save your garlic for something else!

Cilantro is a key ingredient in a good guacamole. Cilantro and lime are like a Mexican flavour-match made in Mexican flavour heaven.

A common problem when using avocado is that the avocado will start turning brown. This browning occurs once the avocado flesh is exposed to the oxygen in the air. (Same thing that happens with apples.) Although slightly brown avocado is still safe to eat…it’s not very nice to look at. There are  few things I do to keep my guac super green, and so far, it’s been working amazingly!
1. Lemon/lime juice slows down the browning process and is already one of the ingredients
2. Save the pits and put them back into your bowl of guacamole after you’ve made it. Food specialists claim that keeping the pit in the avocado also slows browning. It works for me!
3. If I need to store my guacamole, I use plastic wrap pressed right up onto the dip itself. Make sure there are no air bubbles. This way your guac comes in contact with as little air as possible. Refrigerate.

Perfect Guacamole

Ingredients:
I’ve made this so many times that I don’t measure my ingredients anymore. Your main ingredient is the avocado, all the other ingredients can be used to taste. Add ingredients bit by bit and taste as you go! TIP: don’t over-do the onion…may result in lethal onion breath burn.

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper (or to taste)
  • Approx. a quarter of a red onion, not too much!
  • Fresh cilantro about 5-6 sprigs (wash and trim ends)
  • Juice of 1 lime (Can substitute with lemon juice. But lemons are bigger, you may not need to juice the entire thing.)
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tomato, remove all the seeds, diced (optional, I don’t always add tomatoes)

IMG_7446

1. Cut avocados in half. Remove pits and save for later. Scoop out all the avocado flesh into a bowl.

2. Finely chop red onion, cilantro, and jalapeno. I use a food processor. The processor will make sort of a paste-like mixture and your dip will be smoother. For a more chunky guac, chop with a knife. If you’re not a fan of spiciness, you can remove the jalapeno seeds. Jalapeno peppers aren’t generally too hot. I usually use half a pepper and leave the seeds in. Transfer chopped mix into the bowl with the avocado.

3. Add lime juice, salt, and pepper.

4. Mash, mash, mash, mash, mash. You avocados should be ripe enough to mash in the bowl with a fork. Continue mashing and mixing until everything is smooth and well mixed together. You can mash more or less depending on whether you like a smoother or chunkier dip.

5. Add in your chopped, deseeded tomatoes before serving. The seeds are removed to get ride of the excess water/juices. Without removing all the innards of the tomato, the juices will leak out and your guacamole will end up being really watery. If I’m bringing my guac to a friend’s, I always play it safe and keep the tomatoes on the side. Mix them in right before eating. That way you avoid watery pools forming. (I don’t have tomatoes in my photos because I didn’t add any this time around.)

6. To prevent browning, stick the pits back into the dip and lay plastic wrap right onto the top of the guacamole (no air bubbles.) Refrigerate if not serving right away.

IMG_7464

6. Serve with tortilla chips. 🙂

¡Buen apetito! xx

 

White Velvet Soup: Cauliflower & Lima Bean Dream

IMG_6396

I was looking for a new and tasty soup to serve at my family Passover/Easter dinner. This recipe came from Green Kitchen Stories, a wonderful vegetarian food blog full of healthy and delicious recipes. I wanted something rich, maybe even creamy, with flavour. I came across this soup and decided it was the one. The gorgeous whiteness of all the ingredients makes things in the kitchen really pretty too. It has the yummy taste of cauliflower with the richness of the lima beans. 🙂 A hot bowl of thick hearty soup is such a comfort on a chilly night. Although the weather’s slowly warming up, I thought I’d take advantage of the last of our colder days and soup it up!

This is a really simple soup to make, and so super healthy! It’s a pureed soup of roasted white veggies and lima beans. These vegetables are full of health boosting nutrients and the lima beans are high in protein and loaded with fiber.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 2 medium onions
  • 6-8 whole cloves of garlic (I used 10…I love garlic)
  • 3 cups of cooked lima beans (about 2 cans)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt to taste
  • olive oil
  • paprika (or cayenne powder if you’d like a bit of spice)
  • Truffle infused olive oil (optional)

This soup is extra easy because all your cooking is done by the oven.

*If you are using dry lima beans, remember to soak them in water overnight. I soaked mine overnight and then boiled them the next day for an hour or so…or until they are soft. Even though the skins get wrinkly while soaking, leave them on. All the fibre is in the skin.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line two baking trays with parchment paper.

2. Wash and cut your head of cauliflower into small pieces and transfer to first baking tray. Drizzle olive oil over top and sprinkle with salt.

3. Peel the onions and cut into chunks. Transfer cut onions to second baking tray along with whole cloves of garlic. Drizzle olive oil over top and sprinkle with salt.

4. Put both trays into the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the edges have become a nice golden colour.

5. (I was about to start blending in a blender when I remembered I had my hand blender!) Transfer the veggies into a pot and add cooked/canned lima beans, water, vegetable broth, and lemon juice. Now blend until smooth using a hand blender. If you don’t have a hand blender, you can do your blending in a regular blender (doing smaller batches at a time if it doesn’t all fit).

IMG_5915

6. The soup probably isn’t very hot, so heat it up a touch on the stove before you serve it. If you find your soup is too thick, you can add more water (or broth) until you’re satisfied with the consistency.

7. For something a little extra, mix 1 teaspoon of olive oil with 1/8 teaspoon of paprika/smoked paprika. Drizzle over the bowl of serve before serving. I drizzled truffle infused olive oil and sprinkled a little paprika over top.

Hope you love this!! xx

Cucumber Feta Boats

IMG_6084

While searching for things to serve at my Passover/Easter family dinner, I came across a really simple and deliciously refreshing recipe for cucumber feta boats on Pinterest. (Although it totally slipped my mind that I was trying not to serve dairy for the sake of the Passover celebrators. They had to avoid this dish.) They are quick to make and a yummy vegetarian appetizer. You could probably play around and make different variations of the filling too.

IMG_6081

Cucumber Feta Boats
I used a recipe from bitedelite.com

Ingredients:

  • 2 cucumbers
  • 2 oz of crumbled feta cheese (I used about 70-80 grams of crumbled garlic & herb feta, half of a small 150 gram container I bought)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped (use parsley or a different spice if you like)
  • Ground black pepper, to taste

IMG_5997

1. Wash cucumbers and cut them in half lengthwise.

2. Using a spoon, scrape the seeds out of all 4 halves. You’re left with 4 canoe-like cucumber halves.

3. Cut a small strip off the bottom of two of your cucumber halves, so that they can sit on a flat surface without rocking back and forth. These are your two cucumber boats.

4. Dice the remaining two cucumber halves. Put them in a bowl and mix in feta, salt, dill, and pepper.

IMG_6011

5. Divide the mixture between the two boats, carefully spooning it in.

IMG_6018

6. Slice the boats into 1 or 1 1/2 inch pieces.

Ready to serve! xx

Cranberry Sauce Recipe

It’s so easy to make your own delicious cranberry sauce! No preservatives like the store-bought kind, and it doesn’t plop out of the can…still in the shape of a can.

I made mine to go along with a roasted turkey. It turned out to be wonderful! You could even use it as a jam or jelly.

IMG_5900

Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups of fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 cup orange juice (unsweetened)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Bring all the ingredients together in a small saucepan. Bring it to a simmer. Most recipes I’ve looked at say to simmer for 20 minutes. I found the cranberries still looked quite solid. I had lots of time while my turkey was cooking, so I left the cranberries lightly simmering on low for about an hour, and sort of smashed the berries up with a wooden spoon.

It was exactly the texture I wanted. A perfect jelly. Totally worth whipping this up quickly, and the cinnamon adds a lovely touch of spice.

Middle Eastern Delight: Lentil and Split Pea Soup

Lentil soup should be in every cook’s repertoire. What’s more comforting than a steaming hot bowl of this fragrant hearty soup? It also doesn’t cost much to make and is good for you! Lentils are low in calories and high in nutrition. They are full of both protein and fibre and are said to help lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar,and improve heart and digestive health. Lentil soup is one of my Middle Eastern favourites! I used chicken broth, but this can be vegan friendly by using vegetable broth instead. 🙂

IMG_4667

If you’re from Toronto and you like Middle Eastern food, you must have heard of Jerusalem Restaurant. Established in 1971, it was the first Middle Eastern restaurant established in the city and is said to be one of the best. I remember going there as a child with my family. I love their lentil soup, and when I came across the Jerusalem recipe in the paper I figured it was about time I made this soup for myself. (Why have only a bowl, when I can have a whole POT?) I used the recipe as a guideline, but changed a few things here and there. For starters, I decided to add split peas. I also love split pea soup, so I figured combining both would be twice as good. I also chose to do it in the slow cooker, but you can totally make this in a pot on the stove if you don’t have a slow cooker.

IMG_4610

Middle Eastern Lentil & Split Pea Soup

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup green lentils
  • 3/4 cup yellow split peas
  • 1/2 cup basmati rice
  • 8 cups chicken broth (I made my own stock from scratch. You can substitute with chicken bouillon powder or store bought broth.) *Vegan option: use vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (I used fresh lemons)

First, saute the chopped onions and garlic in a pan with the olive oil, until lightly browned.

IMG_4616

Rinse the lentils, split peas, and rice under cold running water in a sieve.

IMG_4619 IMG_4623

Put the sauteed onions, along with the rinsed lentils, rice, and split peas into the slow cooker (or pot) and cover with 8 cups of chicken broth.

IMG_4632 IMG_4635

I set the slow cooker for 8 hours on low. (If you’re going to try it in a pot on the stove, you could probably bring to a boil and then simmer for an hour or so.) You want to cook until the rice, lentils, and split peas start to kind of dissolve. The soup becomes more mushy and creamy. If its not as creamy as you want it, let it cook for longer and break apart a bit more. (You can always add a bit more broth if it becomes too thick.)

IMG_4650

I waited to add the rest of the ingredients near the end (at around 7 hours). Add the salt, pepper, ground cumin, and chopped parsley. You can add more or less of things. Taste it and adjust to your liking! Let the soup continue cooking for the remaining time set on the cooker. I find the longer you cook it, the better it is. An extra hour doesn’t hurt. (If you’re making this on the stove, I’d say stir in the remaining ingredients and let it simmer for another 5 or 10 minutes.)

IMG_4660 IMG_4661 IMG_4664

Mix the lemon juice in just before you serve. Always serve with lemon wedges! The yummiest thing about lentil soup in squeezing in the extra lemon juice. I love how the tartness of the lemon tastes with the flavour of the soup. So delicious!

IMG_4670

Enjoy! xx

Simple Oven-Roasted Asparagus

Oven-roasted veggies are always a super easy addition to any meal. I roasted some asparagus tonight. Asparagus is full of nutrients, anti-oxidants and fiber. A quick and healthy recipe!

IMG_4841

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Now wash and trim your asparagus. I always snap the end off with my hands. This gets rid of the tough parts.

IMG_4838

 

Lay the asparagus on a baking tray lined with parchment paper (or foil). Drizzle olive oil over top, add some minced/pressed garlic (however much you like, I love tons of garlic) and season with salt and pepper.

IMG_4843

 

Bake the asparagus for about 10-15 minutes (until just tender). Baking time varies depending on how think your asparagus is.

IMG_4845

 

Ready to eat! Wasn’t that easy? You can do this with tons of different veggies! Sometimes I sprinkle a little lemon juice over top after baking.

Happy and healthy eating! xx