Monthly Archives: May 2012

Adult popsicles

Ice pops

Delicious frozen fruit treats made easily with these lovely ice pop molds.

Yes, these have liquor in them and are remarkably easy to make.

I bought some President’s Choice bar pop molds at my local Fortino’s grocery store, and finally decided to use them.

Ingredients: your fruit of choice, your liquor of choice, and your combining fluid of choice.

I used a handful of fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and cut into chunks. Placed these in a large bowl with a handful of frozen raspberries. Then I dumped in half a can of thawed limeade concentrate [found in your freezer section next to the cans of orange juice] (the limeade or other frozen fruit punch provides the sugar, so you don’t have to make your own simple syrup). I splashed in about one-third cup of tequila and a few teaspoons of Grand Marnier, about 1/2 cup water, and whizzed the whole mixture with my handheld kitchen blender. I didn’t blend it very long, because I still wanted a few fruit chunks, but the colour brightened up nicely when I did start the mixing process. I poured it into the ice-pop molds, using a small measuring cup with a teensy spout, so it was less messy. Placed these in the freezer and enjoyed one the next day. They are so delicious, if a little bit sour, which I like very much, but if you like sweet treats, then maybe use a sweeter fruit drink or prior to freezing add some sugar melted in the water (heat over stove for a little while; here’s a link to making simple syrup). I could definitely taste the alcohol, and it was saucy!

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breakfast addictions

does anyone else here get into breakfast ruts? i went three years eating the exact same thing for breakfast every weekday (1/3 c. oatmeal, soy milk, almonds, raisins & dried cranberries) until one day i could take it no longer.

the crazy thing is that before that day, i loved it, without fail. often ate it for lunch, too.

the past year it’s been peanut-butter & pure raspberry jam on toast. but i’ve discovered a variation on this beautiful theme that will keep me on this particular addiction a while longer: tahini.

tahini & jam on toast. on days when i’m feeling crazy, it’s tahini & red-pepper jelly on toast.

as the friend who introduced me to this marvel of a breakfast option explained, “tahini on toast will be all you’ll eat for breakfast for months. you’ll forget that peanutbutter even exists. then, one day you’ll run out of tahini, and reluctantly pull the pb from the cupboard in its stead. it will be the most delicious thing you’ve ever tasted. you’ll forget all about the tahini. that is until the process reverses itself, and its back to tahini. you’ll find yourself caught in a blissful cycle of tahini & pb that will never end.”

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Cold-brewed iced coffee

It’s hot, and I’m grumpy. Iced coffee helps. This is a remarkably easy way to make it at home, if you don’t feel like actually brewing coffee and then cooling it down. Cold-brewed coffee does have a slightly different taste than the regular stuff, but I liked it.

Grind 1/3 cup of coffee. Place it in some kind of receptacle (a French press would be ideal) and add 1 1/2 cups cold water. Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight (or for 12 hours). In the morning, strain it and dilute the coffee concentrate with milk and/or water (they suggest a 1:1 ratio of coffee to other liquid, but do what feels right to you). Serve over ice. These proportions yield enough for two cups of coffee.

Recipe via the New York Times.

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Carrot and Red Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk

A tasty variation on red lentil soup.  The zesty flavours made me feel like a grown-up while solo-parenting over the holiday weekend.  Wish the 5-year-old would have tried it though!

1 Tbsp butter [or margarine/oil to make a vegan version]
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 red onion sliced
1 leek, white part only, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp finely chopped thyme
2 garlic cloves minced
1 large tomato, blanched, peeled, seeded and diced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cups peeled and sliced carrots (approx. 4-5 carrots)
1 cup dried red lentils, rinsed and sorted
1 bay leaf
sea salt and pepper
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk, or more to taste
lime juice, to serve
chopped cilantro, to serve
crushed red peppercorns, to serve

In a large heavy pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the oil, then add the onion, leek, cumin, and thyme and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring until fragrant and the onion is soft. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.  Add the tomato and tomato paste and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes, until the tomato has softened.  Add the carrots, lentils, cold water, and bay leaf and season with salt and pepper.  Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the vegetables and lentils are soft.

Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaf, and transfer the soup to the bowl of a food processor; puree until smooth.  [We just used our immersion blender right in the pot once the soup had cooled down a bit.]  Return the soup to the pot and stir in the coconut milk.  Reheat and check the seasoning for coconut milk and sea salt and pepper. Serve in bowls with a squeeze of lime juice, cilantro, and crushed red peppercorns. The lime juice is key — really elevates the dish!

Adapted from La Tartine Gourmande.

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Ginger syrup (for homemade ginger ale)

I posted this on Facebook last summer, but it’s just so easy and so good that I figure it deserves further circulation.

Ingredients:

  • about 2 cups ginger — one of the larger hunks of ginger root at the store should work — chopped well (or processed in a food processor)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 cups water

Combine ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 1 to 1.5 hours, until the liquid has reduced to less than half of its original volume (you are aiming to have around 2 cups of syrup by the end of this process). Strain liquid through a cheesecloth or a fine mesh sieve, and let it cool before use.

MAKING GINGER ALE

Ingredients:

  • 1  cup club soda
  • 3 tbsp ginger syrup
  • lime wedge
  • ice

Combine all ingredients in a glass over ice, and stir. These proportions can obviously be adjusted to suit your taste. This is pretty much the perfect summer drink, and would be incredible with a wide variety of spirits (gin, bourbon, rum if that’s your thing, etc etc etc).

I got this recipe from Joy the Baker. She suggests adding a dash of bitters to your ginger ale for extra deliciousness, which I bet would be amazing.

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Oatmeal Pancakes with Rhubarb

In celebration of the arrival of rhubarb season I made oatmeal pancakes with stewed rhubarb for breakfast last sunday.

Sunday Breakfast

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Sweet Potato & Black Bean Tortillas

I always call these soft tacos, but the purists hold that only corn shells qualify as real tacos, and I like to use the mini soft tortillas for this dish. Once you have sweet potatoes and/or black beans in a taco, you will never miss the meat again. This recipe involves throwing together ingredients and not really measuring, because leftovers of the stuffing can be used in anything. Just be careful with the spices and add more at the end if you need more. If you make the guacamole from scratch, this dish can take a while; I watched part of a movie on my mini DVD player while I cooked up all the parts.

INGREDIENTS

Stuffing
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 can black beans (I only use about half the can, so freeze the rest)
1 green bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1/2 large onion, sliced
Spices that you like (I use liberal amounts of coriander, cumin, Mrs Dash, and other flavourings, but save the salt until the end or the beans will get tough).
Favourite hot sauce

Guacamole
1 very ripe avocado, gutted and chopped or smashed
2 shallots minced, or 1 clove garlic  minced
juice of 1/2 lime
1 Tsp honey
Generous amounts of cumin
I had an heirloom green tomato that I chopped and added, which was fun and sour and crunchy. You can add some chopped regular tomato, and cilantro (if you must!), or other typical guacamole ingredients.

Shell
Small or medium tortillas, or real corn tortillas, but hard preformed shells might not work as well because the sweet potatoes could be difficult to stuff into those.
If you want to make your own shells, which are superior and delicious, but time-consuming, here’s a website with instructions.

Toppings, all optional
Chopped lettuce
Grated cheese
Bottled salsa (although this mixture doesn’t really need salsa, if you put enough spices in the sweet potato stuffing)
Sour cream

INSTRUCTIONS

Stuffing
Cook the sweet potatoes in a skillet in small amount of water or veggie broth until they are soft, adding spices after about 8 minutes (don’t let it go dry, though, adding more liquid periodically, or add oil when you add the other veggies in the next step). Add rest of vegetables from stuffing ingredient list and stir occasionally until softened. Add black beans and stir until heated through. Near the end is also the time to add any hot sauces that you like on your tacos. Add salt to taste, if necessary, but the hot sauce usually takes care of that flavour requirement.

Guacamole
While the sweet potatoes are cooking through, mix up all the ingredients for the guacamole. I left mine chunky this time because I had a perfectly ripe avocado. You can mash the avocado first, though, and then mix everything else in afterward. Extra lime juice is always my favourite sneaky ingredient in guacamole.

Shell
When the stuffing is done and beans heated through, heat up a clean pan to at least medium heat and, watching carefully, heat the tortillas, one at a time, on both sides for a few moments, without making them crispy but so that they are heated through. I cannot stress enough how important this step is to get the most enjoyment out of grocery-store-bought tortillas.

Combining
After you heat one tortilla, it’s useful to have a helper to stuff the taco for you, so you can keep heating the tortillas. If you’re alone, heat one tortilla and then stuff it, and then heat the next one, don’t leave a tortilla on the heat unattended or it will get too crispy and crack and you’ll wear your taco stuffing down your shirtfront.
On top of lovely heated tortilla, pile some sweet potato/black bean mix, a generous glob of guacamole, a sprinkle of cheese, a sprinkle of lettuce, and a dollop of salsa, maybe an extra squirt of hot sauce, especially if you’re using the chipotle hot sauce that I’m mad about lately. Fold shell gently over stuffing, inhale. OMG these are amazing (sorry there’s no pic, but I ate these before I remembered to get out my camera; see others’ pics online).

If you want exact measurements for this type of dish, you can try this recipe I found online at Naturally Ella.

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