Sunday, October 25, 2015

What I've Been Eating Lately

I don't think it's any surprise that I love cooking. I've made a few stellar dishes lately that I couldn't help taking photos of, so I though it would be appropriate that I share.

First, here's a one-off. Something I would make again, but is totally an "occasion" dish. I made this caramelized honey nut and seed tart for Thanksgiving:
I followed this Bon Appetit recipe. It was amazing! It was very rich and reminded me of a nutty granola bar. I want to make it again soon - if only we had the occasion for it! Maybe Christmas?

Since winter is coming, we've been craving comfort food hard. French onion soup is one dish that Pat especially loves but feels pretty decadent - something you'd order at a nice restaurant and that's about it. I've made it once or twice before, and it's actually pretty easy! There's no reason not to give it a more regular rotation in our winter menus. It has a short list of ingredients and the time invested is totally worth it!
I mostly followed the Smitten Kitchen's recipe, but when I added the broth I found it to be a bit sparse in the onion department. So I quickly sliced 3 more onions and sauted them until soft. I added them in and also included a pinch of fresh thyme sprigs for the last 15min of simmering (fishing the sprigs out before serving). This was absolutely wonderful!

Now I'm going to share two of my favourite quick dinners - I always make enough to have leftovers for lunch the next day.

First is my version of a grains and roasted veggies bowl:
Here's the step-by-step:

1. Roast your favourite veggies. This time, I cubed potatoes, carrots, parsnips and red onion, tossing them with olive oil, salt, pepper and Italian herbs, and roasted them for 30-40min at 450F, until they were soft.

2. Meanwhile, cook the grains. This time I mixed quinoa, farro and kashi (2:1:1). Try to choose grains with similar cooking times or cook them separately (or add one at a time). I usually cook my grains in chicken broth to give them a bit more flavour. Cook until all liquid is absorbed.

3. Mixed cooked grains and roasted veggies. Add olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

This makes a great leftover lunch. I usually eat the leftovers cold, but since the flavours are a bit dulled when chilled, I add a touch more acidity (lemon juice) in the morning when I'm packing it all up.

Lastly, here's a version of my quick and easy pasta dish (that I actually made for dinner tonight):
When I'm feeling lazy (or my fridge is getting sparse), I make a variation of this pasta dish. Use whatever veggies (fresh or jarred or canned) you have on hand.

1. Cook pasta.

2. When there's only a few minutes left for the pasta, add broccoli (florets plus the peeled and sliced stems) to the simmering water.

3. Meanwhile, saute half of a sliced onion and two chopped garlic cloves in plenty of olive oil, until soft.

4. Slice approximately one and a half roasted red pepper (out of a jar - whatever I had leftover from a previous dish), reserving liquid. Similarly, chop a jar of artichoke hearts (almost full, like the peppers), reserving juice.

5. Drain pasta and broccoli and return to pan. Add onion, garlic, peppers and artichoke.

6. Add a couple of tablespoons of each of the reserved liquids (peppers and artichoke) and olive oil, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Add in the leaves of 4-6 sprigs of fresh thyme.

I was so pleased with how this turned out! I'll probably sprinkle this with a touch more lemon juice tomorrow morning before heading to work since I'll likely eat this cold, just like the grains. There's nothing better than a two-meals-for-one supper!

What have you been cooking lately?

Monday, October 19, 2015

The New Homestead

My parents are building a new home! Since we only travel North every couple of months, it's really quite exciting to see all the progress that has taken place since we last visited. Last time we were up in the summer, there was only a driveway with a cleared area at the end. Now take a look:
These are from the front with the driveway at my back (you can see the large meadow behind the soon-to-be house). My parents are standing at the garage side. The cement has been poured and the basement is rising!

Here's a look from the meadow:
That last one is taken from the other side of the meadow, near the entrance of the forest trails (to be more accurate: in the pet cemetery... RIP Buster). You can see the hut that will house the generators and batteries required for the solar panels. My dad has decided that they are going completely off the grid. This fortuitously placed meadow is perfect for a panel big enough to sustain a home.
This is the view (to the right - the driveway is on the left) from the soon-to-be front porch. The fall colours are simply amazing this year!

Now for my favourite photo of the bunch - the aforementioned driveway (as seen from the house):
How peaceful is that? Don't you just want to take a stroll??!

I can't wait to see what the place will look like next time we are up (at Christmas)!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Autumn Display

Here is a very small peek at the gorgeous fall colours we enjoyed on our trip North last weekend for a wonderful Thanksgiving spent with family. I only took a smattering of photos with my phone - instead, I sat back and breathed it all in. It was wonderful!
Now if only the true vibrancy of the leaves could be conveyed in photographic form! I'm telling you, it was so much brighter and breathtaking than these reveal. Driving through the Muskokas in the fall should be on everyone's bucket list!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Our First Snow

It's snowed / hailed this morning (however briefly)!
It only lasted about 10 minutes and stuck around for even less long, but down it fell! Winter is definitely on its way. I can't complain though - I'm thoroughly enjoying the cooler temperature and gorgeous fall colours. The trees are just starting to change here, but we had quite the colourful treat on our way North for Thanksgiving last weekend. I'll post some of those photos tomorrow!