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food: spiralizer

I have an exiting new toy! my spiralizer.
I’ve been reading about these devices for years… but it always seemed like such an unnecessary novelty that I didn’t have room for in my limited kitchen space.
but, finally the temptation of being able to make a mountain of perfect zucchini noodles in seconds wore me down.
and I have zero regrets.
I bought mine on amazon.ca for about $20 and for that price I figured that even if I use it for a couple months and then ditch it, I still will have my money’s worth. but ya. I’m addicted. everything gets spiralized now!
zucchini is the obvious starter. it’s cheap, good for you and makes delightful noodles.

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I have also recently made friends with orange noodles… butternut squash and sweet potato work wonderfully.

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those ones pictured above I cut a slit into pre-slicing so that the noodles would come out macaroni-like for a mac & cheese dish.
I’ll post that full recipe and pics later, but it was delish. the only warning I’ll give is that it takes a little practice to tweak recipes for veggie noodles to compensate for the water content in the vegetables.
but it’s such an easy and delicious substitute for terrible-for-you processed carbs.
on valentines day we feasted on zucchini pasta with homemade pesto as a base for some seared scallops. I wish I had take a picture, but it was so tasty it was immediately consumed.
more spiralized recipes ahead!
and follow me on instagram at vancityrockgirl for lots of food pics.

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travel: cruising the caribbean

all this cold winter air and snow on the ground is putting me into vacation mode… and 2014 is going to be a leaner year for vacation for me, which while a little sad, isn’t the end of the world. I’m sure 2015 will make up for it.
the grand plan for 2014 has two guaranteed trips, and I know this because flights are bought already… I’ll be cruising the eastern caribbean in a few months and heading back to austin in October.

in May I’m off to Miami to board the MSC Divina and spending 7 nights on a work vacation. meaning it’s technically work, with days spent in conference rooms, but still with free time (including in port) and getting to enjoy a balcony cabin with my work roomie.

I’m really excited to see some new places, including Puerto Rico!

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I’ve been to the Bahamas before, but to Nassau, so these are all new stops for me… including the port of Miami.
I watched a doc called Cocaine Cowboys the other day and it was centered in Miami and showed some crazy stuff… but I’ve heard Miami is a pretty rad city, so I’m excited to spend a night there before my cruise.
my flight won’t get me in until late so most of my Miami time will be in the morning, so if anyone’s been and has a breakfast/morning wander suggestion, I’m staying at the Hyatt Regency and would love to hear it.

food: overnight refrigerator oats

good morning! on my seemingly never-ending quest to be better at breakfast, I have discovered that in addition to the overnight slow cooker oats, there is a magical refrigerator version…
many people on the intrawebs refer to this as “summer porridge” and while I agree that the cool light texture makes it perfect for hot weather, I’m gonna go ahead and say that on a beautiful clear sunny day like today, it’s just fine for winter too. (as long as you’re inside, obvs)

my inspiration was twofold. first off, I have a ridiculous amount of chia seeds thanks to homesense… and I was in the f&v (that would be fruit & veg) market and found fresh passion fruit. aaaaaaand then some blackberries.

so, behold; blackberry & passion fruit overnight refrigerator oats.

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the recipe is simple and definitely flexible. all you really need is 250ml mason jars or containers (I like mason jars because I have reusable plastic lids for things like this. plus; pretty)
and here’s the recipe.

1/4 cup old fashioned oats (raw)
1 1/2 tsp chia seeds
1/4 cup Greek yogurt (I used plain, but use anything you have/like)
1/3 cup milk

put those in your container and shake/mix well. if you don’t have greek yogurt, use regular yogurt and a little less milk to keep the texture right.
then add your fruit.
I used 1/2 a fresh passion fruit and 5 blackberries cut in half.
you can really use anything…. lots of people use fruit jam/preserves.
add sweetener if you like; honey ect…
put the lid on, give it another shake and let it hang out in the fridge for the night.

in the morning, it’s an easy grab & go breakfast to eat at your desk, or lovely on a sunny morning patio.
it’s a nice texture with the yogurt,
enjoy!

food: all of the sweet potatoes

lately I’ve had a bit of a new food obsession. it’s to stuff everything and anything into a sweet potato.
for one, it’s obvs super healthy. sweet potatoes have less carbs than regular potatoes… blah blah blah… but mostly I just like the taste of them. and they are magical little vehicles for the yums.
it all stems from a paleo trick that I adopted a couple years ago to make a tuna melt using a half of a baked sweet potato instead of bread. to be honest, I was skeptical. but I decided to give it a go and lo and behold, I was addicted.

it’s so delightful and easy, I use it as a lunch for work often. I mix the tuna with fixins (I use chopped pepperoncini peppers, s&p and sometimes a smidge of mayo) and I load up the half sweet potato, pile on the tuna and top with some cheese. at work, I microwave and chow down.

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this is an obvious a solid meal choice, but honestly, I’m not always in the mood for tuna. and sometimes I have leftovers calling my name.
so, a week or two ago, we had leftover rappini from a dinner. it had been sautéed in ghee and had plenty of garlic in it. so, we reheated it in a non-stick frypan and piled it onto the sweet potato. topped with some smoked gouda and browned in the toaster oven. a little siracha on top and voila; quick & easy lunch.

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this maneuver kind of sparked a “what else?” train of thought in our house… and now the half sweet potato has become the go-to vehicle for leftovers.
If we’re baking or cooking something in the oven, I’ll scrub a couple sweet potatoes and toss them in to cook and then throw them in the fridge so they’re ready…
and I think this is my current fave stuffing; it’s kale sautéed in a little ghee with garlic and feta cheese. it’s salty, crunchy, sweet and garlicky. I could eat it every day.

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let me know if you have any sweet potato stuffing secrets! I’d love to get some new ideas.

food: overnight slow cooker oats

rise and shine! it’s way too early in the morning… and while I’ve done my fair share of early rises (competitive swimming as a kid and a husband that wakes at 5am for work will do that) I’ve never really been the type that leaps out of bed.
I find myself terribly inefficient in the morning. I walk in circles forgetting what I’m doing. my multitasking is weak at best. basically what I’m saying is that I’ll take all the help I can get.
I’ve also never been much of a breakfast person. give me that coffee (or 3) and I’ll be good until lunch (or 2pm if I’m working) and while I’m aware it’s not healthy, it’s been a lifelong struggle.
sweet is not for me… it’s rare that I crave a sweet breakie, I usually lean more towards savory. and if I’m really being honest, it’s toast or an english muffin or a bagel that I really want. carbs. all of them.
anyways, these are all bad habits that are ripe for the breaking.
one sweetish thing that I can get into is oatmeal. but because those convenient little pouches are sugar bombs, I figured it was time to make my own. so last night I made some steel cut oats in the slow cooker overnight. let me just tell you how delightful it is to wake up to breakfast done. about as delightful as coming home after work to a slow cooker dinner. (I love that damn slow cooker)
okay. oats; here ya go.

overnight slow cooker apple cinnamon oats
– 1 cup steel cut oats
– 2 cups almond milk
– 2 cups water
– 1 tsp cinnamon (or more to taste)
– 2 apples peeled & chopped
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– pinch of salt
– 2 tbsp sweetener (honey, brown sugar ect. I used vanilla sugar)
– coconut oil to oil slow cooker
– toppings for the morning as desired. (dried fruit, maple syrup, walnuts, chia seed ect)

oil slow cooker well. do NOT skip this step. you will not be happy if you have to chisel out your breakfast.
mix all ingredients well in slow cooker
turn on to low setting and cook 6-7 hours depending on how hot your cooker is. (if possible try this recipe out during the day or when you’re home to check on it)
stir when done, top as desired and chow down! leftovers can be kept in fridge and reheated adding milk if it gets too thick.

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this is a pretty basic recipe with lots of room to play around with flavors and different fruits. I’ve heard banana works well but read to avoid raisins in the slow cooker, apparently it’s better to add them as a topping.

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,900 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

food: kale & chorizo slow cooker soup

hello friends and welcome to slow cooker season. it is cold as, outside. (as my aussie friends would say) and so obviously we’re all about the soup right now.
and why not? soup is super healthy, easy to make and is perfect to make ahead and freeze for busy days.
I tend to fall into a rut with soup… I have a few puréed soups and a few chunky ones I do often, but I want something new and exciting. and in my canadian living magazine that was part of my magazine purge, I unearthed this gem for kale & chorizo slow cooker soup.

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it turned out wonderfully. the chorizo lost a lot of its flavor, but I used a raw chorizo and I think if I used a cured one it would have solved that problem. and really, it lost its flavor into the soup, so it’s not all bad.
because you had to fry the sausage and the onion before slow cooking, the prep time was a bit longer than my usual slow cooker recipes, but it was worth it. the broth was rich and lovely and we added a bunch of extra paprika because I like it and I have a lot that I brought home from Budapest.
we also served it with a dollop of sour cream on top, which I stirred in to make a nice creamy soup, but as leftovers I just had it without dairy. bon apetit!

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