Following the copious restaurant meals I’ve had in the recent week(s) and amidst the laziness which ensued on Sunday, I was struggling to decide what to make myself for lunch. I could no longer ignore the hungry pleas of my stomach and succumbed to making a sandwich. Trying to find the easy way out, I fumbled in my fridge and noticed some leftover roast chicken – that’ll do.
Why argue with a classic or put up with an industrial version of a chicken salad sandwich, especially when one like this is so easy to make? Simple, tangy and a great way to use up leftover chicken. Serve on whole grain bread with some salad, and you have a healthy balanced lunch (or dinner) in no time flat. Here’s my version of chicken salad (quantities are for one).
Chicken Salad Sandwich
- ½ chicken breast, cooked and chopped
- 1 tbsp apple, finely diced (snack on the rest of the apple while you make your sandwich)
- 1 tbsp celery, finely diced (I had zucchini leftover, so I used that instead)
- 1 tbsp onion, finely diced (any onion of your choice will do)
- 1 ½ tbsp plain yogurt (because it’s a healthier choice than mayo)
- salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Spread between two slices of your bread of choice, stuff in a bun or pita, or even roll up in a tortilla, and garnish with lettuce.
Sandwich in hand, I proceeded to return to the warm spot waiting for me on the couch and curled up in front of another episode of […]. Come on, I can’t confess all my secrets here… but if you guess right, I’ll tell you which show I was indulging in.
Wow, has it really been 12 months since my last post?! It always amazes me how much time flies. I have no excuses to make, nor do I feel like I need to justify anything. The past year has taken me through a full spectrum of emotions and experiences, none of which I would change. In spite of everything that has happened, I been battling creative block.
But, here I am today, facing the same screen and blinking cursor which has been haunting me for months.
It’s February and we’re in the middle of winter. Snow storms and below freezing temperatures drag us towards heartwarming meals and into cozy blankets, in search of comfort to console our lack of sunshine. To heal my soul from the harshness of winter and my emotional-creative-rollercoaster, I was craving a wholesome tomato soup.
Completely ignoring the fact it is not tomato season, making a soup with these pasty winter tomatoes we get here in Quebec is probably the best way to have them, second only to oven-roasted. This recipe is my own and I hope it brings you warmth as much as it did for me.
Winter’s Tomato Soup
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 4 cups Italian tomatoes, cut into quarters
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 4 cups water
- 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
- fresh sprigs of thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot on medium-high heat, add the olive oil, onions, pepper and thyme. Cook stirring occasionally until the onions and peppers are soft. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, turn the heat down to medium, cover and allow them to cook down for a few minutes.
Once the tomatoes begin to soften, add the balsamic vinegar and stir. Add the sundried tomatoes and water. Once the water reaches a soft boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and allow to cook for about 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
Once the tomato soup is cooked, remove from heat and let it cool a bit before puréeing it in a blender.
To serve, simply reheat the tomato soup and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, butter or cream, with grilled bread, a spoonful of plain yogurt or sour cream, or even topped with some cheese. Whatever it is you’re craving, go for it!
Well well, look at that… it’s that cliché time of year again: Valentine’s Day. With the pressure to have a date, be a date or make a date with your mate, I say it’s bullshit. What is not bullshit however, is the need for chocolate. Regardless of the situation, chocolate will never disappoint.
I am all about no-bake desserts. I’ll say it again, I cannot bake. Also, I am obsessed with the combination of avocado and chocolate. Avocado is a healthy way to tap into that craving for something fatty, and chocolate – well, enough said.
Vegan-No Bake Pot de Crème – a.k.a. Avocado Fudge
Makes 3 portions, ⅓ of a cup each
- 1 ripe avocado
- 6 tbsp cacao powder
- 6 tbsp maple syrup
- ½ tbsp mesquite powder or vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. If you do not have a food processor, using a fork, mash the avocado until you get a smooth texture. Using a whisk, alternatively adding the dry and wet ingredients, until well incorporated and smooth. Spoon into cups and garnish with seeds, nuts or berries. Refrigerate until it is time to serve.
Or just put on a movie and curl up with a spatula and the mixing bowl.
A little side note. I was visiting with my friend K. this weekend and was lucky enough to get treated to some fantastic vegan cupcakes. She used this recipe from Vegetarian Times but substituted the all-pupose flour with spelt flour and the soymilk with homemade almond milk. I contributed to the recipe by making the icing, and I used this avocado fudge as the icing. So chocolatey, it was the perfect pick-me up after a long work-week.
[I have pictures to go with this post but I have temporarily misplaced my camera cable to download the pictures.]
Sometimes there is just no time to cook. I had aspirations of creating and writing about about all sorts of dishes that dreams are made of. Recipes that challenged me, and expanded my repertoire. Concoctions that required that I put my brand new Creuset to good use, for something other than soup. A new Creuset calls for a braised meal for me to truly say that it has been broken in. I’m over zealous, need to be consistently over -stimulated, that it is difficult to back off from overdrive. Amongst numerous parties and events that have kept me out of the house, I still need to eat good food made with my own two hands. Coming home late, tired and lazy, sometimes the last thing I want to do is cook. Yes, it happens to me too. You know when you open up that fridge and the only words that come to mind are: “there is nothing to eat!” Even though you know perfectly well that there are plenty of healthy ingredients, that should be used up and converted into food before you are forced to toss them?Yup, I do that too; but I hate wasting food. That is how I put this dish together.
It was 9pm and I was just walking though the door. Opened up my fridge felt completely uninspired and tired at the thought of having to be up at 6 am for the 6th day in a row after going to bed way past my bedtime more than once in the last week. Changed into sweats, considered skipping dinner but my tummy was growling. Went back into the kitchen opened up every single cupboard, drawer, and door for inspiration. I thought of my wilting spinach and abandoned bell pepper, caught a glimpse of the opened package of rice noodle vermicelli and settled on an idea. Twenty minutes later I was eating this:
Red Curry Veggie Bowl
Makes one portion, ready in less than 20 minutes.
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
- 1 cup of raw vegetables
- 1 cup of leafy greens such as spinach, Swiss chard or kale
- 1 handful of rice vermicelli, softened in boiling water (or about 1 cup cooked)
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp red curry paste
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp hot water (take from noodle soaking water)
1 tbsp coconut oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Use an assortment of vegetables, whatever you have leftover in your fridge is fine. I used some zucchini and red peppers. In a pan on medium-high heat, melt the coconut oil and sauté the garlic, onions and ginger until soft. Since discovering coconut oil I always have some in my pantry. It gives a great flavour to any dish and is great for sautéing. If you do not have any on hand, simply use a vegetable oil and add a dash of sesame oil when serving to add a nice nutty flavour. Add the remaining vegetables, sprinkle with the turmeric and sauté until cooked. Add the leafy greens, cover the pan and allow to wilt, about a minute.
In the meantime, dissolve the red curry paste with the hot water and the fish sauce. Strain the soaked and softened vermicelli. Uncover the pan to toss in the red curry mixture and noodles, until everything is well mixed.
Serve piping hot and you can choose to garnish with fresh chopped cilantro, a wedge of lemon or lime, or even some nuts or seeds for added crunch. I had none of these on hand, and my bowl was just as tasty.
You can also add some cooked shrimp, meat or a scrambled egg. Play around with what your fridge has to offer. We rarely ever make a fuss over our everyday meals, but nothing is stopping us from making something tasty and bright in no time flat.
After all the food, get-togethers, parties, and too much indulging overall during the holiday season, it is not surprising that come January, the biggest trend for New Years’ Resolutions has to do with realigning our lifestyle habits such as eating and exercising. In this part of the world, January is also synonymous with snow and below freezing temperatures, which makes it difficult to stick to those salad regimes we fantasize settling into with little effort. It is easy to succumb to some of our favorite comfort foods that may not be kind to our bodies or our resolutions. Cravings for hot stews, roasts, braised meats, butter, breads, pasta and all those hearty dishes are inevitable. Just because you want to eat better and feel better to start off the New Year, it doesn’t mean you have to ignore your cravings. It’s all about finding the right balance between satisfying your need for comfort in these cold months and choosing the right foods to make you feel better.
This recipe is inspired by this risotto recipe that appeared in Bon Appétit. I have since made my own version over and over again, and even turned it into a quisotto (quinoa, cooked risotto style).The quinoa provides more nutrition than the white starchy Arborio rice, the egg is the touch of comfort and vegetables are simply good for you. Try using different vegetables, keeping in mind that depending on cook time you may need to stagger adding your various veggies. For an even lighter version, poach the egg or skip it altogether and top the quisotto with roasted tomato slices. Ingredients make two hearty portions (or two smaller ones, with some leftovers for lunch).
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 mushrooms, diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 zucchini, diced (about ½ cup)
- ½ bell pepper, diced (about ½ cup)
- 2 celery stalks, diced (about ½ cup)
- 2 carrots, diced (about ½ cup)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp dried herbs (I like using the Provence blend)
- ½ cup quinoa
- ½ cup white wine (optional, replace white wine with broth)
- 1 ½ cup broth
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 eggs
In a small pot, heat up the broth and keep warm while cooking the quisotto. The reason you want to keep the broth warm is because you want to avoid slowing down the cooking process when adding ladles of cold or room temperature broth to the quinoa/vegetable mixture. This applies to any risotto as well.
In a pot on medium-high, heat the olive oil, add the herbs and sauté the garlic, onion, celery and bell pepper until soft but not browned. Add the carrots, mushrooms and quinoa, stir for about a minute to coat well and toast the grains. Add the white wine, stir the mixture while simmering until the liquid is mostly absorbed. Turn down the heat to medium or medium-low and add a ladle of broth. Add the zucchini and stir until the liquid is mostly absorbed. Repeat until the quinoa is cooked through and has absorbed all the broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you find you do not have enough broth, you can easily add a touch of water at a time until everything is cooked through. The consistent stirring adds “creaminess” but unlike Arborio rice, it is not fussy and does not risk becoming sticky.
In a pan, fry the eggs as desired and serve atop of the quisotto dish.
For those of you detoxing or doing a cleanse, why not try making a raw version of this quisotto with some sprouted quinoa, combining it with the raw diced vegetables and just barely covering with warm miso broth. Of course, skip the wine and the egg. ;-)
For information on sprouting quinoa, click here.
And last but not least, a very happy belated New Years to everyone, thanks for reading and I wish you all health and happiness for 2012!