Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pulo Chicken Naan Wrap

I was recently selected to participate in the Pulo Recipe Challenge. That is, Pulo sent me their collection of sauces and marinades and I was asked to come up with, and share, a recipe using one of the sauces. Although the sauces were provided to me by the company, all opinions are my own. 

Pulo is an authentic collection of sauces and marinades inspired by the 7000 Islands
of the Philippines.  They have no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives. That is very important to me! Although not familiar with Philippine cuisine, I was excited to try it! My very first roommate (at Queen's University) is from the Philippines and she is just AWESOME (Hi Xyza! ) I read up on the culture of Philippine cuisine and learned that what makes it so rich and tasty is its dynamic mixture of different cultures: Malay, Chinese, Spanish and Indian. What a wonderful mix! 

I love Indian food, so I decided to take the fusion aspect one step further and make Pulo chicken Naan wraps, using the mango chili marinade. I have eaten Naan wraps from an Indian restaurant in the market building but have never tried making one myself. What on earth was I waiting for? These were so easy and delicious.  The marinade pairs perfectly with chicken, making it so tender and flavourful. The recipe has less than 5 ingredients and can be whipped up in no time. 

A selection of Pulo sauces and marinades- Coconut Adobo, Pineapple Tamarind, Kare Kare Toasted Peanut
and not pictured here: Mango Chili and Lemon Grass Atsuete

I chose to use the mango chili marinade

I forgot that marinades not only add flavour, but also make chicken so tender! 

Spread the lettuce and chicken on Naan Bread

So delicious

Ready to eat! 
Ingredients:
- Pulo Mango Chili Marinade
- 6 chicken thighs
- lettuce
- store bought Naan or home made if you are feeling ambitious- I used bought chilli and coriander Naan.

Instructions:
- Pour marinade over chicken thighs in a bowl or ziplock bag.  Let marinade for about 1 hour (longer is fine too)
- Preheat oven to 425 F
- Put chicken into a baking dish and cook for about 45 minutes
- Warm naan in a frying pan
- Cut chicken into bite size pieces
- Place lettuce and chicken on the naan, wrap up and enjoy!

These marinades and sauces also go well with other meats and seafood. So far, I have tried the Lemongrass Atsuete marinade with Tilapia. I look forward to trying out the pineapple marinade as well as the sauces.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Peach Cake




The other day I started to think about my finances and things I want to buy or save for in the near future. Perhaps a new car? I have been saying this for a while but my car is on it's last wheels and I'm not sure it will make it through another ignition test, let alone an Ottawa winter. Plus, with all the 2015 models coming out, there are some good deals on 2014 models.. That being said, how much do I really need a car? I go back and forth between wanting to buy a car right this second and just having no car, saving money on parking, gas, insurance etc.. as usual I am always on the extremes. 

I feel as though September comes with so many expenses! Memberships that need renewing, back to school activities, etc.. I don't spend frivolously but i do know that two areas where I spend more than I should, are fitness and food (mostly groceries as I don't eat out a lot). It makes sense I guess, I eat a lot so I need to workout a lot. Actually it's not the quantity that is a problem, but rather that the quality and the fact that I like variety. 

On the fitness side I have a gym membership, yoga classes, barre classes, athletic conditioning classes, not to mention drop in swimming and the occasional running races.  I tried to go without a gym membership for September but have already cracked and re-joined for October. As long as I use it, I feel this is money well spent.  My goal is to not let anything go to waste.. for example, I purchased 20 yoga classes last year and have 12 left that will expire on October 24 if I don't go. Therefore I will try my very best to be a model Yogini and go as much as I can before that. 

On the food side I shop at Costco, Loblaws, Hartman's, Bulk Barn, Farm Boy, Food Basics, Farmers' Market, Byward Market, Nicastros.. you get the idea! And all these on top of my veggie share. I recently read that although you may think you are saving money by going to different stores, each store presents a new temptation and opportunity to spend and you end up spending MORE money. Hmm..something to think about. How do you budget for food? Do you plan your meals in advance? Shop with a grocery list and stick to it?  Please share your tactics with me! 

All this got me thinking, and I opened up my e-copy of Leanne Brown's cookbooks Good and Cheap. Have you heard about this project? It is a cookbook that was on Kickstarter with cheap recipes and you can download it now for free! The premise is that everyone should be able to eat healthy meals on as low as $4 a day. Even if you aren't on a tight budget, it has a lot of great looking recipes. 

When I came across a recipe for peach cake, I knew right away I wanted to make it. I see so many people posting apple recipes, but before I can get on that bandwagon I need to use up my delicious peaches.  Even though I was eating a them as often as I could, time was winning the battle and I knew they would soon start to go bad.  If you are in the same boat, and have lots of peaches in the house, I highly recommend this easy recipe. 

Ingredients: 
6 peaches, pitted and sliced
1 tsp cinnamon
½ lemon, juiced
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ lb unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
11/3 cups brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Instructions
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Lightly butter an 8” x 11” glass baking dish or 9” springformpan. 
- In a large bowl, mix the peach slices, lemon juice, and cinnamon together with your hands, making sure the peaches are well coated in cinnamon.
- In a medium bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder
- In another large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, and salt, either with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer. 
- Add the vanilla, then the eggs one at a time, fully mixing in the first before adding the second.
- If using an electric mixer, switch to a wooden spoon and add the flour mixture into the butter mixture, gently incorporating it until it’s smooth. The batter will be quite thick.
-Spread half the batter over the bottom of the buttered pan. Evenly distribute half the peach slices.
- Spread the other half of the batter over the peaches, then top with the remaining peaches. Sprinkle with a tablespoon or so of sugar and place the cake in the oven.
- Bake for 1 hour or until cake tester comes out clean 

Eat as is, or topped with ice cream. 

Enjoy! 







Topped with delicious home made maple ice cream 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tomatillo Salsa






Well it is tomato season! Anyone who has a CSA veggie share, or has been to a market lately will experience or see, what my sister calls the invasion of tomatoes. Her CSA share is crazy and she posted a photo of her whole counter covered in tomatoes. I got some tomatoes too, and also got these green tomato-like things, called tomatillos. When I picked up my veggies, Kristian at Rochons Gardens told me that these tomatillos are a bit bitter if you eat them on their own so it would be better to use them in salsas or for cooking.  I was intrigued and started looking up recipes. The recipes I found either said to cook the tomatillos or to use them raw. I couldn't decide what to do. Cooking them would be extra work, but might taste better? Instead of deciding, I did nothing.

Then, on the weekend I went to the farmer's market at Brewer.  I love the atmosphere there. It is filled with people strolling around in the sunshine, tasting, sampling and buying and just enjoying their Sunday morning.  They were also hosting a salsa competition. The competition was also divided into raw tomato salsa and cooked tomato salsas.  My favourite salsa, was the defending champion, Hoople Creek farms. The salsa was flavourful, a lot of lime and just the right amount of spice. The salsa was in the raw category, and they had a sign " recipe available upon request". How, perfect!! So I modified it a bit and it turned out great!! I highly recommend making it.

D& I ate it on shrimp tacos, and we both liked it. Since then I have been eating it with tortilla chips. It is also GREAT for making nachos. Man once those lime tortilla chips are out of the house (aka once I inevitably eat them all), I AM NOT BUYING ANY MORE!! They are too addictive and not so healthy. There- I am held accountable. The salsa on the other hand is super healthy, filled with vitamins and delicious and just tastes fresh.

Ingredients:
-6 or 7 green tomatillos (that may be redundant, as I think tomatillos are by nature green)
- 1/2 white onion
- 1-2 cloves garlic, depending on personal preference
- 1/2 cup cilantro (or more if you have the patience to pick off the leaves from the stems for longer)
- 1 jalapeno (or other hot pepper)
-  juice of 2 limes ( i often opt for using "pure lime" juice for the convenience it offers, but here I used real limes)
- 1 tablespoon red pepper jelly
- 2 tablespoons honey
- salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
- remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well, as they will be a bit sticky
- cut in quarters and chop in food processor. Transfer to a sieve and drain.  If you want, retain liquid and use in a soup or salad dressing.
- pureee onion, garlic, cilantro leaves and hot pepper in food processor
- return strained tomato to food processor and add remaining ingredients. At this point i chose to strain the whole thing once more to remove some more liquid. However you might lose some of your lime juice. If you prefer a more liquid salsa do not drain again.
- refrigerate to cool, and serve.

Enjoy!

If you don't have a food processor, you can still make this recipe, using a good old fashioned-knife. It will just means a lot of chopping.

These flowers are also from the farmer's market- I love how they brighten up the kitchen! 



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Rosemary Bread



Since I got the Kitchen-aid stand mixer, I knew I wanted to make rosemary bread. I really like rosemary- mmm. Since i was house-sitting and my parents rosemary plant looked so good, I decided to give it a go!







So fresh and plentiful!

I took inspiration from the food network's recipe and adapted it to take into account some of the comments it received on how to improve it. The bread is so light and airy! It feels almost hollow. I cut the bread into slices at first and then realized I could easily just rip off pieces and dunk them into oil and vinegar. A nice little appetizer or after-work snack to hold you over until dinner.  Like the other breads I have made so far, this one was easy, but you do need some time. For these loaves you don't need  bread pans, just a baking sheet. It makes 2 decent/small sized loaves.

Ingredients
1  packet active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing and serving
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons dried rosemary
1 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Stir the yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. << I realized that last time i didn't let it sit long enough. This time it really foamed, so now I know what to look for. 
  2. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, the flour, 1 1/2 tablespoons rosemary, the fine salt and 3/4 cup warm water; stir with the dough hook  until a dough forms. Continue kneading with hook on medium until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
  3. Brush a large bowl with olive oil. Add the dough, cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until more than doubled, about 2 hours.
  4. Brush a baking sheets with olive oil. Generously flour a work surface. Punch down dough and divde into 2 pieces. Working with one piece at a time, sprinkle some flour on the dough, then fold the top and bottom portions into the middle. Fold in the sides to make a free-form square. Use a spatula to turn the dough over, then tuck the corners under to form a ball. Place seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Let stand, uncovered, until more than doubled, about 2 hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake the loaves 10 minutes; brush with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with the kosher salt and the remaining 1/2 tablespoon rosemary. Continue baking until golden brown, about 10 more minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. Serve with olive oil and vinegar or whatever you choose. 





Enjoy!

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Pumpkin Spiced Baked Donuts

Fresh from the oven


I couldn't wait to try it 



Rainy Saturdays are perfect days for baking
Sorry folks, but it is starting to feel a lot like fall! With all the hype about Starbuck's Pumpkin Spice Latte- aka PSL, I figured it was as good a time as any to start with some pumpkin baking. You do need a donut pan to make these donuts, otherwise I am sure you could make muffins with the same batter.

I haven't made donuts since I made these chocolate glazed ones a while back. For those of you who follow me on pinterest I have a whole board dedicated to donuts and they all look so good! This recipe was inspired by Eat Drink Love  and modified.

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon; 1/2 tsp. nutmeg; 1/2 tsp. allspice; 1/8 tsp. ground cloves or 1 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1/3 cup canola oil 
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup milk
Cinnamon Sugar coating 
  • 1-2 T butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
I love cinnamon sugar, I used to always eat it on pancakes or French toast. Add lemon..delicious!

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  If your donut pan isn't non-stick make sure to grease with butter (I hate non-stick spray but that is just my personal preference. If you like it feel free to use it)
  2. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves.
  3. In a separate, larger bowl, stir together oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin and milk until smooth. Add dry ingredients in with the wet ingredients and mix until just combined, being careful not to overmix.
  4. Put the batter into a ziplock bag or a piping bag. Then pipe the batter into each cavity of the pan. Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool about 10 minutes before removing from the pan. 
  5. If you want to do a cinnamon sugar coating, melt the butter. In a separate bowl, stir together sugar and  cinnamon. Dip each donut into the butter until completely coated and then dip into the cinnamon and sugar. Repeat with each doughnut.
Delicious baking project for a rainy fall day.. enjoy!!!


Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Blackened Trout with Mango Salsa



I have wanted to make this recipe since It came up on my blogger reader ages ago from SkinnyTaste.com. Her version uses salmon but i decided to use fresh Atlantic trout that I got at Costco. I love going to Costco by the way! I went on Saturday with P and totally stocked up on all things healthy and delicious.

Anyway D came for dinner on Sunday so I made it. I used less cayenne than the original recipe and it was a bit spicy but still tasty. I don't think I would have enjoyed it otherwise. We both started eating it right away and I didn't get a chance to take any photos! Well I did take a photo of a half eaten plate..not the best! So this photo is from leftovers that I had again the next day served with Farro (stir fried with mushrooms and leeks). Have you tried it? It's supposed to be healthy and tastes really good. nice change to rice.





For the mango salsa: 

2 asian mangos, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1-2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh lime juice  

For the trout:

1 tablespoon paprika 
1/2 tablespoon cayenne 
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or fresh if you have)
1 teaspoon kosher salt 
3-4 large pieces of trout 
olive oil to brush pan

Instructions:

Combine all the salsa ingredients in a bowl, season to taste with salt and pepper and refrigerate salsa until ready to serve. 

In a small bowl, add the paprika, cayenne, chili, thyme, and salt and mix to blend. Put the mixture on a plate and coat the fillets.

Heat a large  pan  over medium heat, and brush with oil. When very hot add the fish, flesh side down and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Use a spatula to carefully turn the fish, then cook an additional 5 to 6 minutes.

Enjoy!!

We both really enjoyed it. one critique I received was that the mango was chopped too coarsely.. That is my bad for lack of finesse. So cut the mango a bit smaller depending on your target eaters.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Pizza Dough

Ready top pop into the oven

Mmm lunch is ready

Slicing a piece


So the last time I tried to made pizza, I used all the dough and it was soo think. It was pretty much the deepest dish pizza you can imagine. I didn't love it. When I told my friend Kristin about it, she burst out laughing and said the dough always makes enough for at least two pizzas. Woops. Last time I used the kitchen aid cookbook. This time I used Kristin's recipe and modified it/combined it with the Kitchenaid one.

It turned out much thinner and was delicious. I froze the leftover dough and will have enough to make another pizza and maybe even try out some of these ideas of 10 things to do with leftover pizza dough  that Kristin sent me ( thank you!!). She also informed me that when using frozen dough be sure to let it thaw to room temperature first.

Ingredients:
  • 1 3/4  cups lukewarm water (105-120 F- you can use a candy thermometer for this, or just wing it) 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon yeast, or 1 package
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cups flour, I used half all purpose, half whole wheat
  • cornmeal

Instructions
  • Mix everything except for the flour together and let it foam a bit. 
  • Mix in the flour, knead until dough has the right consistency. I used my Kitchenaid with the hook attachment on setting number 2. If you don't have one, kneed by hand.
  • Place in a lightly greased bowl. Let it sit in warm place covered by tea towel for 2 hours or so. It will roughly double in size.
  • Preheat oven to 450F
  • Punch down dough.
  • Roll out onto a lightly greased pizza pan ( sprinkled with cornmeal for an authentic look)
  • Cover with toppings- here I used tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil, mozzarella and chili flakes
  • Bakes for 15-20 minutes. 
  • Enjoy! 

This was so easy. I'll never buy ready made pizza crusts again. As long as you have enough time to let the dough rise, it's easy peasy and delicious. 

Monday, September 01, 2014

How to save on groceries

Happy Monday everyone! It is especially happy because it is labour day, so it is great to have a day to lounge and relax instead of the usual hustle and bustle of trying to get the garbage out on time and rushing out the door for work.  Instead I had time to workout on the spin bike while watching Suits, have a leisurely breakfast and make a pizza dough (recipe to come soon hopefully). Since I have a bit of free time on my hands, I thought I would tell you about this ap- Flipp.


I found out about it from Stan who was visiting this weekend (with Carolyn). He said he was wondering if there was an ap that could sort through all the flyers and find what you are looking for. He thought it would be a great business idea if it didn't already exist. Well it does, and it is called Flipp. You enter your postal code and it shows you flyers for the stores in your area. What's especially neat about it, is that you can search for an item e.g. raspberries and it tells you which stores in your area have it on sale and what the promotion is. Now it may not be worth it for small items, but for larger purchases such as razors, toilet paper, laundry detergent, etc it can make a significant difference in your grocery bill.

I tried it out for fun by searching for peaches. Well for fun and also because I love peaches and am an addict. I browsed the search results and then purchased them at food basics for less than $3 for fresh Ontario peaches. I'm quite impressed.

 Try it out! Let me know what you think!


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