Monthly Archives: November 2014

Greek Meatball Pitas with Mint Yogurt Sauce

I was reading an article the other day that said “Studies show that kids who eat the same meals as their parents are healthier”. It makes sense. Generally, when we prepare typical “kid-friendly” foods we sacrifice nutrition (chicken strips, hot dogs, macaroni and cheese), unless you’re making everything from scratch, which can be really time-consuming. I’m lucky in that my oldest child has always been a very open minded eater. He’ll try almost anything at least once, although he has a very specific list of three things he doesn’t like; tomatoes (unless in sauce or pizza), avocado and raisins. This is really unfortunate for his younger sister, who happens to be a wee bit pickier. Because my son is such a great eater, I’ve never really gotten in the habit of making “kid-friendly” meals. If I am making something that I feel might be a tough sell to the kids, I usually just make them the “broken down” version. A great example is Thai chicken curry. It’s super easy to set aside some cooked chicken, red peppers and rice for the kids without any effort. There are exceptions to this, of course. If we’re having friends or family over, I’ll make something super easy that all the kids will enjoy. After all, when it comes to food we all have a guilty pleasure or two (Or too many to count, in my case).

One of the more “kid-friendly” meals we do have fairly often is stuffed pitas (or wraps). I set out several different bowls of stuffing ideas and let them pick what they like. The only rule is that they have to choose at least three veggies.  We usually have chicken or chickpeas for some protein and I’ll make tzatziki (super easy). I think the kids like that they get to be in control a bit, it makes it sort of like Subway and my kids love Subway. This week, I decided that I wanted to try something a bit different, Greek meatballs. It worked out really well, except for my daughter, the youngest. With a bit of convincing, though (I stuck a toothpick in her meatballs and told her they were just like lollipops) I was able to get her to try a bite. She ultimately (with some bribery, I’m only human) ate two full meatballs. I’m calling it a great success!

Greek Meatballs

 

Meatballs:

1 Lbs ground beef

1 Lbs ground pork

1 egg

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tbsp oregano

2 tsp cinnamon

1 lemon, zest only, juice reserved

salt and pepper to season

 

Sauce:

1 Cup plain greek yogurt

1 tbsp lemon juice (from above)

1/3 C mint leaves, chopped finely

 

Extras:

Pita bread

assorted veggies; I used lettuce, cucumbers, olives, tomatoes, bell peppers

feta cheese

 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Farenheit.

First make the sauce. Combine the yogurt, lemon juice and mint. Mix well and set in the fridge until ready to serve.

In a small bowl, mix together the oregano, cinnamon, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Lightly beat the egg until the yolk and white are combined. In a large mixing bowl combine the beef, pork, egg, garlic and oregano mixture. Using your hands, mix it all together until well combined. Roll the mixture  into 1″ balls. Bake for 20 minutes.

Once the meatballs are cooked fill or top your pita with veggies, a few meatballs, sauce and some feta. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Roasted Tomato and Garlic Soup

Last week we were away in Disneyland. It was so much fun and so exhausting. There was also so much to eat. From the candy and treats to the gigantic smoked turkey legs to the character dinners, food was everywhere. Well, some food was everywhere, fruits and veggies were a bit harder to find. I usually start my day with a fruit and veggie smoothie and from there make sure to include them in every meal or snack. Needless to say, after a week of not meeting my typical daily fruit/veg allotment, I was feeling a bit sluggish and gross. I vowed to make the next week much healthier. So to the menu board I went. I came up with a few new ideas, but the first one had to be something to warm us all up. When we left Disneyland the weather was beautiful, 22 degrees Celcius (that’s 72 degrees Farenheit) and sunny. When we stepped off the plane at home it was below freezing and windy. Talk about a shock to the system.  Not that I’m complaining, I live on the west coast of Canada. Our winters/autumns are quite mild compared to the rest of the country. I’m just more of a summer weather kinda girl.

This fall, I’ve been making a lot of soups. This is a bit new for me. Aside from a couple of favourites that I make from time to time, soup is not something I usually excited about, nor is it something I make very often. Lately, it seems to be on the menu almost weekly. If I had to choose a favourite soup (aside from the French Onion Soup that I posted a few weeks ago) it would have to be tomato soup, preferably with either a grilled cheese or tuna sandwich on the side (for dipping, of course). Made from scratch, tomato soup is super healthy, and this recipe is very easy to make. It can also be made mostly ahead of time. If that’s your plan make sure to leave the cream out until you’re ready to reheat the soup. Enjoy!

Roasted Tomato and Garlic Soup

10 roma tomatoes

1 head of garlic

1- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion

1 tbsp dried basil

1 tbsp butter

1/2 Cup light cream or whole milk

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

fresh basil for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees farenheit.

Cut the top off the head of garlic and place it on a baking sheet along with the tomatoes. Drizzle with the olive oil. Roast in the oven for about 35 minutes (the garlic might need a few extra minutes). Set aside until cool enough to handle.

While the tomatoes and garlic are roasting, dice up your onion. Heat the butter in a small pan and saute the onion and basil for about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Remove the skins from the tomatoes and the paper from the garlic. Place in a blender or food processor along with the onions. Blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into a soup pot and over low heat, stir in the balsamic vinegar and cream. Serve once it has been heated through.

NOTE: If you find the soup a bit too thick,  you can add a little bit of water or some extra cream to thin it out.

Turkey Meatloaf with Cranberry Sauce

With American Thanksgiving next week and Christmas just 5 weeks away (Yikes!), I’ve been seeing a lot of recipes lately to celebrate the season. I thought it was a perfect time to start working on some of the recipes I’ll be preparing this Christmas. I didn’t get to prepare a (Canadian) Thanksgiving dinner this year, as we went to my in-laws home, so I’m feeling a bit rusty. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway. I really just wanted an excuse to make and eat stuffing without roasting an entire turkey. With that in mind, I thought a turkey meatloaf would do the trick. I made the meatloaf using some of the flavours I usually include in my Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey; apple, sage and of course, cranberry sauce to finish it off.

It was delicious, even if the pictures weren’t the best. I was a little distracted by the other photographer in the room. My daughter sure likes to help make dinner, now if only she would eat it as well…….

 

Turkey Meatloaf with Cranberry Turkey Meatloaf w/ Cranberry and an extra photographer

Meatloaf:

1 1/2 Lbs ground turkey breast

3/4 Cup apple, diced

1/2 Cup shallot, diced

2 eggs, beaten lightly

3/4 Cup bread crumbs

1/3 Cup fresh sage, finely chopped

salt and pepper

 

Cranberry Sauce:

1 bag (340g) of fresh cranberries

1/2 Cup water

1/2 Cup maple syrup

2 cinnamon sticks

1 orange, sliced in rounds

 

For the meatloaf:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees farenheit.

In a mixing bowl combine the ground turkey, apple, shallot, sage, eggs, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Mix together until just combined. Place in a greased loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until cooked through. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

 

For the cranberry sauce:

While the meatloaf is cooking, combine the cranberries, water, maple syrup, cinnamon and orange slices in a sauce pan. Simmer over low heat for 20 to 30 minutes until thickened. Remove orange slices and cinnamon sticks before serving.

 

 

Healthy Chicken Salad Sandwich

Let me start by saying that this post is not about a humble chicken salad sandwich as much as it is about my love of food,  and all things that have to do with food. A month or so ago I was given the opportunity to help my sister-in-law with her amazing new recipe book (Vegetarian Comfort Foods to be released August 2015). She had a photographer coming over to take images for her new book and needed a bit of help with the overwhelming task of preparing 70 dishes or so that were to be photographed. Of course, I jumped at the chance. What seemed a daunting task was my idea of heaven. Several hours of playing around in the kitchen with no interruptions from the wee ones? Yes, please. While preparing the dishes, I got to watch her talented photographer take beautiful images of the food we prepared. It has inspired me to work on my food photography skills a bit more and play around a bit with the backgrounds and details.

Then the other day the sun was shining in the window, highlighting the  sandwich I had made myself for lunch. It looked so perfect, like it was waiting to have it’s picture taken. It’s something I probably wouldn’t have noticed before, but I find I’m noticing these little details more since the cookbook prep. Feeling a bit silly at first, I grabbed my camera and took a picture. I thought it turned out pretty well, given there was no staging, just a bit of sunlight.

Getting back to the recipe:  I try to eat healthfully most of the time. It makes me feel good. With that being said, I’m just as likely to devour multiple helpings of home made mac n’ cheese as I am a plate of salad, if it suits my taste that day. What can I say, I like to cook, but I really like to eat. For me it’s about making those sometimes unhealthy foods I love, as healthy as possible, while still maintaining the delicious components that make those  dishes what they are. My lunch today was a great example: I love a good chicken salad sandwich. It’s something I remember having often growing up. Unfortunately, they’re not usually overly healthy given the mayonnaise they’re often loaded with. Here is my healthy makeover for a chicken salad sandwich:

Chicken Salad Sandwich

1/2 avocado

1/3 C chicken, cooked and diced

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

2 slices whole grain bread

alfalfa sprouts, lettuce or any other veggies you like

 

Whisk together the olive oil and vinegar. Set aside

Dice the avocado. Place it in a small bowl with the chicken, salt and pepper. Gently stir in 1/2 the vinegar mixture. Depending on your taste, you may need to add more of the vinegar mixture – I used about 3/4 of it.

Toast your bread, then spread with your chicken salad and top it off with your veggies of choice.

Seared Scallops with Orange and Avocado

I love seared scallops. They seem so impressive, yet are really very simple to  prepare.  I usually make them to go along with a bowl of risotto (or two, but who’s counting). This time, however, I decided to take a different approach and pair them with something a bit healthier and a little less rich. A few things to keep in mind when searing scallops are that they need to be dry when they hit the pan so that they sear, rather than steam. Season them with salt and pepper, and lastly, make sure the pan is nice and hot. I hope you enjoy them!

Seared scallops with orange and avocado

Seared scallops with orange and avocado

 

1/4 Cup jicama

1 avocado

1 naval orange

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 Cup pine nuts, toasted

 

For the scallops:

1 tbsp butter

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

6 large sea scallops

 

In a small bowl, whisk together the white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Peel and dice the jicama, avocado and orange. Toss lightly with the vinegar mixture.

Remove the muscle from the scallops, then pat them dry and season with salt and pepper.

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the extra virgin olive oil and butter. Once the butter has melted into the oil, gently add in the scallops, being careful not to overcrowd them. Cook the scallops until golden brown, approx 1 – 2 minutes per side.

Divide the orange and avocado mixture between two plates. Place the scallops on top and garnish with the pinenuts. This recipe serves 2.

 

 

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