Sunday, August 28, 2016

Breakfasts

I had some delicious breakfasts last week, including avocado toast (one piece drizzled with balsamic, both topped with pink Himalayan sea salt):


Juicy nectarines from the farmers' market: 


And a chocolate oat parfait, with maple banana "soft serve"

Chocolate "Overnight" Oats

1/3 cup raw quick oats
1 T chia seeds
1 T cocoa
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, or any milk-like drink

Mix everything together and let it sit about 10 minutes, or cover and refrigerate overnight so it's even quicker in the morning.

Maple Banana "Soft Serve"

1 large frozen banana (or 1 1/2 small) broken into chunks
1 T pure maple syrup
Almond milk (or any milk) - start with a couple T and add more as needed

Throw the banana, syrup and milk into your blender or food processor, and mix until smooth and soft-serve ice-cream like.


Layer the oats and the soft-serve into your parfait dish, and dig in.


We spent the entire weekend at home, without leaving the house, which was great.  We had eggs, toast, and bacon for breakfast on Saturday.


And then on Saturday evening we threw together a sausage-arugula breakfast strata, and tossed that in the fridge overnight, so it would be ready to pop in the oven this morning.

Sausage-Arugula Breakfast Strata
 
6 eggs
1 1/4 cup half and half
salt and pepper to taste
2 T chopped basil (or whatever herb you have on hand)
About 1/2 loaf of crusty bread, cubed (we used 200g rosemary focaccia)
1 lb (1 package) breakfast sausage rounds, cooked and cut into pieces
5-6 white mushrooms, quartered
1 cup arugula, torn or rough chop 
Olive oil (for roasting mushrooms)
1 cup of shredded cheese, whatever you like

Mix eggs, half and half, salt and pepper and basil.  Set aside.  Drizzle olive oil over the mushrooms, salt and pepper them, and roast @ 425F for about 20 min.  Once browned, remove and set them aside.  Spray your baking dish, then layer half the bread, half the mushrooms, half the sausage, half of the arugula, and half of the cheese.  Repeat with the other half of the ingredients.  Slowly pour the egg mixture over everything.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  The next morning take it out and leave at room temperature while you preheat the oven to 350 F.  Bake, covered, for 30-40 minutes, then uncover and bake another 20 minutes. 


This was a nice way to start out our morning.  More about our weekend in the next post.

What have you been eating for breakfasts lately?  
Have you ever made a strata?

Friday, August 26, 2016

Ramen


We're pretty much addicted to ramen

The problem is, our city is lacking a ramen restaurant (what we wouldn't give for a Ramen Isshin in town).  The only solution is to make our own delicious, noodle-y, flavourful soup.


We made the broth as I described in this post.  After straining it we seasoned it to taste with some splashes of fish sauce, soy sauce, a bit of sesame oil, salt and pepper.  We made sure that it was under-salted.  This is important, because we had a lot of broth and weren't going to be using it all for one meal.  You always want to leave your broth unsalted, or very lightly salted until you're going to use it, because when you bring it to a boil, it reduces, and could easily become over-salted.  We minced some of the fat and meat that was on the bones, and whisked that vigorously into the soup to give it that creamy, gorgeous texture everyone loves in a good ramen.  We also minced ginger and added that.


We used brown rice noodles for our soup, which only take three minutes to cook, and are vegan, as well as gluten-free.  They only have two ingredients, organic brown rice flour, and organic millet.  They are from Costco, and we thought they were great.  They were curly, just like ramen noodles should be, and had a good texture.


After straining the noodles, we put them into ramen bowls, and topped them with raw green onion.


We topped that with thin rare beef.  The broth will cook the meat more, so it's good to barely cook it before putting it into the bowls.


Next, we ladled the hot broth over top of everything.


And topped it with a very soft poached egg (sunny-side would work too).


I forgot to snap a picture before stirring my egg up a bit; I was too excited!  We topped it with sriracha, because sriracha is amazing.  You can also add more salt at this point if your broth wasn't salted enough before.

We cooled the rest of the broth and put that in the fridge.  Today, I brought it to a boil, and added red miso for a new flavour of broth.  This is why it's a good thing that I didn't salt all the broth a lot before, because boiling it would have condensed that saltiness, and also, I was adding miso, which is very salty itself.


This was another great bowl of ramen, for another rainy day.


So comforting.

It looks like the gloomy days are on their way out, as the weekend forecast is beautiful.  We're hiding away in our backyard all weekend - bliss.

What are you up to this weekend?  Do you have a good ramen restaurant in your city?  If so, please share - we'd love to know where to visit if we're ever near there.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

What's Up Wednesday

1)  Early Sunday morning before we started prepping for our Italian dinner, Christopher made breakfast - one of our most favourite parts of weekends at home.


2)  We had a lot of leftovers after dinner on Sunday, so we sent Christopher's parents home with some, and started our week off with some as well.  On Monday morning I had cauliflower soup for breakfast:


3)  Lunch was chili with some garlic bread re-heated in the oven.


4)  Monday's dinner was leftover stuffed pasta shells:


The last of the bread too ...


5)  I picked up some of these kombucha drinks at Costco, and absolutely loooooove them!  The ingredient list is great, and they have a nice fizz from the active cultures.


These will be a regular purchase around here.  The health benefits of kombucha are incredible (not to mention the health benefits of lemon and ginger).

6)  Yesterday I made an omelet for breakfast.  I filled it with olive tapenade, tomato, red onion, feta cheese and a bunch of cilantro.

 

7)  The omelet kept me fueled when I went for a really long walk with my friend Alissa and her little one, Vienna.  We walked for a couple hours and visited; it was so nice.  I'll miss this when I go back to work. 

8)  This morning I woke up to a cold, rainy, windy day - perfect for oatmeal.  Despite the bad weather, I hit the farmers' market after breakfast.  I grabbed a bunch of onions and garlic.


9)  I made pizza for lunch today (onion, yellow pepper, green olives, arugula, salami, three cheeses).


10)  It's been a perfect afternoon to make beef stock for tonight's homemade soup.  If you're using bones that haven't been cooked at all before, the trick to perfect broth is to boil them for about 10 minutes to release all the gunk that will float to the top. 

Photo taken pre-gunk, because the gunk is gross.
Skim it off, and then dump everything over a strainer in the sink and wash the bones.  This step will help give you a cleaner, lighter stock, which is perfect for the dish I'm making tonight.

Then, roast the bones at 425 F until they are well browned (I must have roasted them about 30 minutes - I didn't really keep track):


Once they are browned well, put them into a large stock pot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil.

Throw onion and garlic into the oven and roast that for a while too:


Keep an eye on them, and take 'em out when they look all roasty and delicious, and that garlic is ready to burst.  Toss them into the pot and boil the bones, onions and garlic for a long time, covered.  I like to boil everything for at least eight hours or so.


Later I'll strain this into another pot, season it, and make soup - more on that in the next post.

11)  Today was also a good day to make coffee cake


Between the beef stock and this coffee cake, it's safe to say the house smells amazing.

How's your week going so far?  Do you ever make beef stock?
Do you like coffee cake?  Is it feeling like fall where you are?

Monday, August 22, 2016

A Birthday Dinner for a Young Gal

Christopher's parents came over to our place for dinner yesterday, as it was Christopher's mom's birthday, and we wanted to celebrate by treating her to an Italian meal.

It was the most beautiful day, so we started out in the backyard.  We popped some bubbly:


And then enjoyed one of our new favourite dishes, crispy polenta, with fried eggplant, a homemade sauce, and smoked cheddar:


There are so many fresh flavours in this dish, from the rosemary crusted onto the polenta, to the garlic, basil, vine-ripened tomatoes, and red wine in the sauce.


Next up our little friend made an appearance, and we snacked on some meats, cheeses, olives, etc..


We moved into the house for cauliflower soup.


The main course was stuffed pasta shells, served with garlic bread and Caprese salad skewers.


I made a classic cheesecake for dessert.


With a Saskatoon berry sauce for topping.


An extra special piece for my mother-in-law Leisa.


We had a wonderful evening celebrating her birthday, and it was the perfect way to end off a fabulous weekend at home.

How was your weekend?  What did you do?