February 2, 2016

Raspberry, Coconut, and Almond Oatmeal Breakfast Loaf

Lately, I've been working on my fitness game. Five days a week at 7:50 am I walk a couple of  blocks down the street to the Orange Theory studio where I get a major sweat on. I've been doing this for around 8 weeks now, almost immediately following the go-ahead from my GP after the whole baby/surgery/can't feel my abs thing. It's been absolutely amazing to have a whole hour all to myself. An hour that is all about me. I remember being 7 months pregnant and just counting down the days until I could workout again - and I don't mean walking from the couch to the fridge. I mean legs burning, heart pumping, sweat dripping, workouts.

I have this whole routine in the morning. I wake up at 6:45 am, feed the baby, change the baby, feed the dog, feed myself, let the dog outside to pee, and then get dressed. I leave the house at exactly 7:50 am to make it to the studio at 7:55 am with enough time to put my stuff in the locker and grab my station.

For breakfast the baby has breast milk, the dog has chicken and Burbank potato dog kibble, and I have oatmeal. The baby and the dog seem pretty content with their situation, but after eating oatmeal for breakfast for a couple of weeks straight, I'm getting pretty sick of it.

Through trial and error, I have found that oatmeal is the best pre-workout meal for me. It gives me plenty of energy to get through a workout without leaving me feeling too full or sluggish, and bonus, soluble fibre! I've seen a few recipes pop up in my feed over the last few weeks for baked oatmeal which inspired me to take my oatmeal game one step further, and transform it into a super healthy loaf of sorts. And this way I'd be able to slather a generous portion of almond butter and raspberry jam on top, which is a good enough reason in itself.

This loaf is made with all sorts of good stuff like whole wheat flour, oats, applesauce, coconut oil, flaked coconut, almonds, and raspberries. It's thick and moist and hearty and flavorful and everything that I am looking for in a breakfast loaf. It's not too sweet. The raspberry and coconut flavors are the main attraction. It's relatively high in fibre, low in sugar, slightly sour and a little nutty. And absolutely amazing.


January 19, 2016

Grilled Cheese with Balsamic Glazed Mushrooms, Onions, and Fresh Spinach

Grilled cheese sandwiches are one of my absolute favorite comfort foods in the winter months. When I was a child, my mother would make us grilled cheese sandwiches using a big old grilled cheese press with a metal handle, springs and all. We'd always eat our grilled cheese with a piping hot bowl of tomato soup for dipping, and a pickle on the side. I still make grilled cheese quite frequently, but I'm not quite equipped with a dedicated grilled cheese press, so I use a large frying pan with a lid, on the stovetop.

I love to experiment with different grilled cheese varieties. I've tried making grilled cheese on ciabatta bread, raisin bread, and rye bread. You name it, and I've put cheese on it and fried it. I've even attempted to make a grilled cheese on a croissant, which sounds pretty fantastic, but was actually an epic fail. And then there was that time that I made a mini grilled cheese and used it to garnish my Bloody Caeser. To be honest, I am pretty traditional in the grilled cheese department and do prefer a nice fresh crusty loaf of white bread with some aged white cheddar.

Grilled cheese toppings are where my creativity really blossoms. I like to add a slice of tomato or some hot peppers, maybe some avocado slices, or red pepper, but my absolute favorite way to eat a grilled cheese is with some slow cooked glazed balsamic mushrooms and onions, and some fresh spinach. The balsamic vinegar adds a tanginess that cuts through the rich and creamy texture from the cheese. The spinach adds a nice pop of color and a freshness that is incredible. The BEST way to eat grilled cheese.

Thanks to the folks over at Kraft for sponsoring this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Be sure to check out the Kraft Product Locator to find ingredients near you.


January 12, 2016

Vegetable Soup with White Beans and Rice

How was your New Years Eve? Did you guys do anything exciting? Please tell me you did. Let me live vicariously through your champagne and sequins. I fell asleep at 10 pm. Not on the couch, or on the floor, or at the bar. I made the conscious decision to leave the couch where Terminator 3/4/5? was playing, to go upstairs to my bed and go to sleep, and I am still really disappointed in myself. I did manage to stay up long enough to have a glass of pink champagne and eat half a bag of all dressed chips, which is as exciting as it gets these days, if you're not counting my 3 month-old baby who just got his first two teeth, and the worst cold ever, at the same time. And if you think that's bad, Brent and I were also sick, which meant that we were a bunch of crusty jerks, coughing and sneezing and bitching at the same time. And if Sebastian knew how to talk, I'm sure he would have been bitching right there with us, but instead, he lay in my arms, barely able to breathe, coughing and sneezing, eyes goopy, fever, the works. And for a small second I contemplated going out and buying the Nosefrida just so I could help him breathe, but who are we kidding, there is no way that I was going to suck the snot out of his nose. I just can't. I won't.

We're all feeling much better now. We're back in Seattle, trying to get Sebastian back on PST, which is the worst. There were a couple of days last week where I was tempted to break out the bourbon and drink myself to sleep, but instead, I persevered through the loud and hysterical crying, soothing and comforting him until he passed out from sheer exhaustion. Real life. He's finally back to the happy bouncy baby that we know him to be, which is a relief, because tired angry Sebastian is a little much to deal with.

I'm currently in super crazy let's finally pick a color and paint these walls/get the bathroom finished/remodel the kitchen mode, and it is all consuming. I lay awake at night with visions of hexagon tile and paint samples in my head. Brent's been drywalling the bathroom, and our house looks like the dessert on a windy day. I am attempting to paint the new doors that we just purchased, and they are currently lying across the front room, so it's basically a shit-show around here.

In order to keep ourselves healthy and sane, I've been trying to keep some good nourishing food in the fridge. Food that's quick and easy to heat up in a pinch, because with all the projects and the baby and the dog to look after, it often feels like we don't have the time to sit down and eat a proper meal, which leads to a lot of take-out. And there's nothing wrong with a little take-out here and there, but pizza 3 nights in a row just seems so right but also so wrong.

At the beginning of the week, I whipped up this pot of vegetable soup, enough to get us through a few meals this week. I was immediately inspired when a post popped up in my feed for Smitten Kitchen's Parmesan broth. I made a quick broth using her recipe, and then I added a whole lot of veggies, potatoes, white beans, and rice. I topped it with a generous pour of really good olive oil, and a decent amount of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. If you've got a loaf of crusty bread lying around, I image this soup would taste incredible with a few pieces of cut-up bread on top.


December 30, 2015

Top 10 Favorite Recipes of 2015

Wow! 2015 was a whirlwind guys. There were some pretty big and influential things that happened in my life and with others around me - new homes, weddings, babies, puppies. 2015 was a really good year, and I feel extremely lucky to say so. To sum up the last 365 days, there are a few keywords that stand out - pregnancy, hottest summer ever, newborn, life changing, bathroom renovation, painters, skittles, and fro-yo. As exciting as this last year was, I am hoping that the next year brings a little more travel, fewer house renovations, more family time, more trashy TV, and A LOT more cocktails, am I right? As the year quickly comes to an end, I thought it would be fun to go back through my old posts and sum up my 10 favorite recipes, and let me tell you, my friends, there is a theme. Chocolate, carbs, and caramel.

Carrot Zucchini Bread with Walnuts and Cream Cheese Frosting

After a love/hate relationship with zucchini this past summer. A serious recipe fail involving zucchini and fennel and strong pregnancy hormones, I decided mid-June that I absolutely would never eat zucchini again. Until I made this spiced carrot and zucchini bread that changed my life. Because walnuts and a thick cream cheese layer. Need I say more.

Montreal Style Bagels with Date and Walnut Cream Cheese

This past year I decided that I was finally going to attempt Montreal-style bagels at home. I was pregnant, and lazy, and didn't want to make the 30-minute walk to Eltana, where you can buy the most incredible Montreal style bagels I've ever tasted. I was suffering from serious bagel cravings, so I made a batch at home, ate 3, stuck the rest in the freezer, and ate a bagel for breakfast for at least 2 months straight. The best two months of my life.

Walnut and Bananas Foster Pancakes

I'm not kidding you, this was the first time I had ever made bananas foster. I don't even know why I was denying myself such an experience. And what better way to eat pancakes then topped with sweet caramelly bananas. Maple syrup just doesn't cut it anymore

The Ultimate Veggie Sandwich

I lived off of this sandwich for the first 3 months of my pregnancy. I'm not kidding you. I ate it every day. Cheese, avocado, green pepper, hummus, pesto, and lettuce. So much green, so much good.

Plantain Chips and Guacamole

Deep fried plantain chips were something that I wanted to create at home for many years, but never got around to it, mostly because of my fear of deep fat frying. After a random trip to the Asian grocer and an impulse plantain purchase, that dream became a reality, and my life became complete.

Seared Halloumi, Caramelized Peach, and Cherry Salad

I had never been a fan of halloumi (I always thought it to be too chewy) until this new Greek restaurant opened up in Capitol Hill, and then I realized that I want to put fried halloumi on everything. And I especially want to eat it in salad form with sweet tangy summer fruit.

Broccoli Rabe Arancini with Marinara Sauce

At the end of the summer, I made these deep fried risotto balls filled with mozzarella, and served with marinara and grilled lemons, and it wasn't necessary the components that made this recipe great, it was the arancini method that I really locked down. I dream about these arancini often.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Doughnuts with Skor Bits

I always prefer a deep fried doughnut to a baked one, but this recipe changed that for me. Dark, chocolatey, cakey, doughnuts topped with salted caramel and covered with Skor bits. The doughnut of my dreams.

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake with Salted Caramel and Candied Pecans

I made this cheesecake for Brent's birthday, and it was probably one of the best cheesecakes that I will ever make. The graham crust was not too sweet, a little salty, and the perfect amount of crunch. The filling was cinnamony, pumpkiny, creamy yet thick. I topped it with salted caramel and candied pecans, which are basically two of the greatest inventions next to electricity. Now that I have a small baby in my life, I'm not sure I will get around to making something as elaborate as this again, but a girl can always dream.

Dark Chocolate Salted Caramels

Now that I know I can make a replica of my favorite salted caramels at home, I don't ever need to leave the house again.

Thanks again guys for an amazing year! For all of your support and encouragement, and for allowing me to share a little piece of my life with you.

December 24, 2015

Barbecue Maple Baked Beans

Happy Holidays!!!

Brent, Sebastian, and I are spending the week in Canada with my sisters, niece, nephew, and parents. Sebastian has no idea what is going on, but my niece and nephew are over the moon excited for Santa. They are also pretty excited about their new cousin Sebastian because (in my nephew's words) "Sebastian is really small and his shoes look like tiny tapping shoes, and he is a magic"???

I love the holiday season because spending time with family, of course, but also because there is no shame in eating copious amounts candy cane ice cream, drinking cocktails at noon, and power-watching cheesy made-for-tv Christmas movies. I told myself that I wasn't going to overindulge this holiday season, but that went right out the window as soon as I saw the tub of ice cream, the tray of Rice Krispie squares, and the Love Actually DVD on repeat. hollah.

Before we left for Ontario a few weeks back, I finally got around to photographing my baked bean recipe I'd been meaning to post for a little over a year now. A few years ago I started making baked beans pretty religiously, after receiving a bean pot from my mother-in-law as a gift. A bean pot is a fairly deep ceramic pot with a wide base and a narrow opening, which helps minimize evaporation and the amount of heat lost, allowing a long and slow cooking time. It's the ideal medium for cooking beans.

As for my bean recipe, I use tomato puree and barbecue sauce as the base. I like to add a few other ingredients for flavor - maple syrup (always), brown sugar, molasses, and apple cider vinegar. Baked beans are one of those meals that takes little to no work to prepare, but requires a decent amount of time in the oven to allow the beans to absorb all the flavors. It's the perfect meal to prepare on a quiet Sunday afternoon while you're busy catching up on chores, or if you're like me, wasting countless hours on the Internet while simultaneously watching Gilmore Girls reruns on repeat.

Thanks to the folks over at Kraft for sponsoring this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Be sure to check out the Kraft Product Locator to find ingredients near you.