|April 3, 2013||Posted by Lauren Keating under Misc., travel|
My birthday was this Sunday (yup, Easter) and I was freaking out a little bit at the thought of turning 30 so we decided to take a quick trip to celebrate. We chose Niagara Falls and Toronto since it’s not too long of a drive and neither of us had been there before. It’s a great city and we had a lot of fun! I don’t have a recipe to share today, so I thought I’d share some photos from out trip instead. (I took most of these photos on my iphone and edited them with PicTapGo; please forgive any graininess.)
I’ll start with the food. We found some amazing places! On Saturday morning, we met up with Mardi for breakfast at a little place in her neighborhood called The Westerly. I first met Mardi at the Foodbuzz Festival all the way back in 2006 and we haven’t seen each other in two years – it was great to catch up! The food at The Westerly was perfect. I got the Eggs Benedict, served over cheddar biscuits with an amazing lemon-y hollandaise that I could seriously eat with a spoon. That’s saying a lot, since I’m not normally a hollandaise fan at all. I seriously might dream about this. On my to make list: hollandaise and biscuits. Shawn had short rib hash and Mardi had huevos rancheros. Both were gorgeous.
After brunch, we did some sight-seeing. Everyone told me that we had to go to the St. Lawrence Market, so that was first on the agenda. It was super crowded and a little overwhelming, but completely awesome. You could get anything there! I didn’t take very many pictures since it was so crowded, but there was lots of meat, really fun ethnic vendors of all sorts, and practically anything you could ever want. There was also a farmer’s market, I sampled some pickled turnips which were amazing. On the to-make list: pickled turnip.
We also went up to the top of the CN Tower. It was totally overpriced and touristy, but fun anyway and the view was great. We wandered around the city aimlessly for the rest of the day. We didn’t really make plans ahead of time and I hadn’t considered that my phone (and my maps!) wouldn’t work in Canada!
After a long day of sight-seeing, we were too exhausted for a fancy dinner. We ended up in Niagara on the Lake, which is a cute little touristy town (unlike Niagara Falls which is a tacky touristy town). We got wood oven pizza at Bistro Six One and, again, they were perfect.
On Sunday we went to the Bata Shoe Museum. (Best. Museum. Ever!) If there’s one thing I like more than food, it’s shoes so this was right up my alley and the perfect way to spend my birthday! The historical exhibits were fascinating and there were some really beautiful works of art on display. This is just a small sample of the photos that I took there – I’m not exaggerating when I say I filled my entire memory card!
We wandered into Chinatown for lunch. We had seen a ramen place with good reviews, but they were packed so we ended up at a place called Asian Legend. I had beef and noodle soup and we shared some soup dumplings. Both were great – there aren’t many places that do soup dumplings here, so I was happy to ave a chance to eat them. The wrappers were nice and fresh. The soup had great flavors but was ridiculously filling… I barely even made a dent in it.
We did some more sight-seeing and then ended up at Oliver and Bonacini Cafe Grill for dinner. We had a little trouble finding a place to eat since it was Easter, but O+B was perfect (and met my requirement of having champagne on the menu!). I had the veal chop with cauliflower gratin and quince relish (to make: cauliflower gratin). Shawn had the Sunday Roast, which came with an amazing horseradish sauce, mashed potatoes and Yorkshire pudding (to make: Yorkshire pudding). For dessert I had creme brulee which was pretty basic. Shawn has carrot cake topped with lemon-sour cream gelato that was insanely good (to make: carrot cake). I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday meal!
A little out of order, but on our drive out we took a detour and stopped for lunch in Rochester. I spent some time there a few years ago and had a great meal at Lento. They just started serving lunch, so I really wanted to check it out! I had a house-made hot dog (exceptional) with beer-caraway mustard and duck fat fried served with house-made ketchup. So, so, so good. (On the to-make list: homemade condiments).
I’ll be back on Friday with a new recipe! For now, here’s an obligatory picture of me in front of Niagara Falls.
|March 26, 2013||Posted by Lauren Keating under Breakfast, Italian, Light, One Pan, Spring|
The best pizza I’ve ever had was at a little neighborhood restaurant in Paris. It was the kind of place where, rather than letting me order a second glass of wine to meet the credit card minimum, they trusted me to go to the ATM across the street and come back to pay. The pizza, which I later learned is called Pizza Quattro Stagioni (or Four Seasons Pizza), was topped with salty prosciutto, earthy mushrooms, delicate artichoke hearts, and briny kalamata olives.
I’ve been pretty uninspired in the kitchen lately. I blame the weather. I want it to be spring. It’s supposed to be spring. I want to eat vegetables and drink lemonade and go outside to take pictures where the light is good. But it’s still freezing cold. There’s snow on the ground and the grocery store is stocked with that same old boring produce that’s been there all winter. I’m over it. And honestly, I’m kind of over food in general. I won’t lie: last night, I had toast with peanut butter for dinner.
- 1 Pie Crust
- 4 Eggs
- 2 Egg Whites
- ¼ cup Evaporated Milk
- Ground Pepper
- 1 cup sliced White Mushrooms
- ½ cup Quartered Artichoke Hearts
- 2 ounces Prosciutto
- 2 ounces soft Goat Cheese (Chevre)
- Heat oven to 400F.
- Unroll pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate, or press into a tart pan. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, and evaporated milk until light and frothy. Season with ground pepper.
- Scatter mushrooms in bottom of pie crust. Top with artichoke hearts and prosciutto. Pour egg mixture over fillings, Top with crumbled goat cheese.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat and bake an additional 30-40 minutes or until the center of the quiche is set, covering the quiche with foil if the crust begins to brown too quickly.
- Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.
|March 22, 2013||Posted by Lauren Keating under Chicken and Poultry, Italian, Sandwiches, Shawn's Favorites, Tips and Tricks|
Remember when I made Asian Calamari Salad and I wrote about how it was more of a concept than a recipe? This is sort of like that. Sure, I’ll give you a recipe for an insanely good Italian chicken panini. But that’s not really the point. The point is that YOU CAN MAKE A PANINI IN YOUR WAFFLE IRON. I mean, what?! Is your mind as blown by that as mine was?
I saw the idea in last month’s issue of Rachael Ray’s magazine and I just had to try it right away. It’s kind of brilliant.
First off, it looks totally cute. Like chicken and waffles, but way less gross.
Second, it’s nice to have another way to use my waffle iron, which I only use a few times a year. Let’s be honest, waffles are more trouble than they’re worth unless you’re really craving them. And if that’s the case, it’s easier to just go to the diner.
Third, the waffle iron adds more surface area to the bread, so it gets super-duper crispy – without needing tons of butter or oil. This was by far the crispiest panini I’ve ever eaten, with bread that shattered between my teeth. All you need is a quick spritz of cooking spray to prevent the bread from sticking to the waffle iron.
- 1 boneless, skinless Chicken Breast(about ¼ pound)
- ¼ cup Panko Bread Crumbs
- 2 Tablespoons Italian Seasoning
- 1 Egg, beaten
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- ¼ cup loosely packed Fresh Basil
- 2 Tablespoons chopped sun-dried Tomatoes, rehydrated in warm water
- 4 thin slices Italian Bread
- 1 ounce Fresh Mozzarella, sliced
- Marinara Sauce, for serving
- Cut chicken breast in half, width-wide, so you have two thin pieces of chicken. Pound to ¼-inch thickness. In a shallow dish, mix bread crumbs and Italian seasoning. Dredge chicken in egg, then in seasoned bread crumbs.
- Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high. When hot, add the chicken – it should immediately begin to sizzle. Cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
- Heat waffle iron.
- Add basil, sun-dried tomatoes, and 1 tablespoon soaking liquid to a food processor or blender. Pulse several times until a thick pesto is formed. Spread over each slice of bread. Top two piece of bread with chicken and mozzarella; cover with remaining bread.
- Spray heated waffle iron with cooking spray. Add the sandwiches; close lid firmly to press sandwiches. Cook 5 minutes, or until bread is toasted and cheese is melted.
- Serve with marinara sauce, for dipping.
|March 20, 2013||Posted by Lauren Keating under Reviews, Tips and Tricks|
I spend a lot of time writing about dinner and occasionally I talk about breakfast (or brunch) but I very rarely write about lunch – mostly because I don’t usually make anything special. I’ve never been a big fan of sandwiches, so I usually just bring leftovers.
Glad recently asked me to review some of their products and, since I’ve been using them to pack up my lunches for years, I thought it would be a great opportunity to talk about what I eat during the day. In order to save time (I’m so not a morning person), I take a few extra seconds to divide the leftovers between several lunch-sized containers rather than packing them all away together. That way, it’s all ready to go and I have options in the morning. All I have to do is decide what I’m in the mood for, add whatever fruit I have that week, and throw it in my lunchbox. I also toss in a yogurt for breakfast.
It doesn’t take more than 5 seconds – which is good because if it takes any longer than that I give up and end up spending $12 on a salad at the cafe next to my office. I can’t afford to do that very often! This week, I can choose between sweet potato enchiladas (on the left) or quinoa, carrot, and pistachio salad (on the right). I also have some soup in the freezer.
I learned the hard way that I can’t eat an exact replica of dinner at lunchtime without gaining weight, so I try to keep my lunches to about half the size of my dinners. With soup, that might mean skipping the bread to go on the side. With the enchiladas, it means swapping out rice and beans or tortilla chips for a green salad. Since some things (like burgers or fish) don’t really reheat well, I’ll sometimes make a big pot of soup or a grain salad over the weekend with the sole intent of bringing it to work for lunches. Some of my favorites are Brussels Sprout Salad with Maple Vinaigrette, Pumpkin Polenta with Chorizo, and – if I’m feeling particularly ambitious – Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes with Tangy Cucumbers and Yogurt.
Since my Glad food storage is all pretty old, I bought some new sets for this post. The pieces I have are perfectly good, but over the years they have gotten discolored from things like tomato sauce so they aren’t the prettiest.
I was really excited to see that they have these “Glad to Go Lunch” containers now that have a little dressing container that snaps into the lid. I always struggle with how to bring salads to work, because they get soggy and gross if you put the dressing on them in the morning, and I don’t like to bring the whole bottle of dressing with me (I always end up forgetting it!). In the past I’ve tried putting dressing in a little baggy, but that gets kind of messy and it’s hard to get it all on to your salad. I’ve also tried a few other “dressing in the lid” options, but they’ve all been one piece and hard to clean. This is actually two pieces – the dressing just goes into a little cup that snaps into the lid. The seal is pretty tight, so it works well. It will pop off and drop the container (I’ve done that a few times) but under normal circumstances it stays put pretty well. (I do handwash them though because I worry that the heat of the dishwasher will warp the lid slightly and make the seal not as tight).
Now that the weather is warming up and salads seem more appetizing than soups, I think I’ll be using these a lot!
Glad is currently hosting an “Inspire your Lunch” contest on Pinterest! Create your own Pinterest board for a chance to win weekly prizes from now until April 28. Go to www.glad.com/food-storage/mom-made/pinterest/ to learn more or to enter!
Steps in entering the contest:
Step 1: Click the Glad photo in the gallery (www.glad.com/food-storage/mom-made/pinterest) that most inspires you to get started pinning.
Step 2: Choose “create new board” in the dropdown menu of the Pinterest pop up screen. Title your new board “Inspired Lunches”
Step 3: Find at least 4 photos anywhere on the web that fits the theme of “Inspired Lunches” and pin them to your new board. Include #gladinspiredlunches in your photo description.
Step 4: Once you’ve pinned 5 photos (including one from the Glad Pinterest Gallery) come back to (www.glad.com/food-storage/mom-made/pinterest) submit your board.
If you make a pinboard in the Glad contest, share your pinboard URL in the comments—I’d love to see what you’ve done! I’m always looking for inspiration too, so tell me how you make your inspired lunches.
Visit Glad’s page on BlogHer for more ideas!
|March 18, 2013||Posted by Lauren Keating under Grains, Lent, Light, Middle Eastern, Salads, Sides, Vegetarian or Vegan|
Before we get to this tasty salad, I’m sure you’ve already seen the news that Google Reader is being discontinued. And, if you’re anything like me, you probably freaked out a little. I follow way too many blogs (hey, they’re written by some of my best friends!) and using a feed reader is the only way I can keep them organized. There are tons of alternatives out there, but I really wanted something that has a feature similar to Google Reader’s “next” button, which brings you right to each blog rather than showing the post within the reader interface. I spent the weekend testing out various options and found that I love BlogLovin. I actually started an account there a long time ago, but never got into it because it was too difficult to import all of my blogs. That problem is solved now, and you can import all of your Google Reader subscriptions in one click. Once you click on a new post, it brings you to that blog and puts a little bar across the top of your screen so that you can just keep hitting “older” and scroll through your new posts. Love it! If you’re looking for an alternative, definitely check it out! And of course, I’d love it if you follow me on Bloglovin, too.
OK, back to the food. Last Saturday I went a little overboard at lunch (I had a craving for a gooey cheese quesadilla that I needed to satisfy!), so I wanted to make something a little lighter for dinner to balance it out. I wandered around Shop Rite without much of a plan, just pulling whatever healthy ingredients sounded appetizing into my cart. I ended up making an easy carrot, quinoa and pistachio salad. I served the salad with pita bread and baba ganoush, for a simple, yet very satisfying meal.
The salad itself is lovely, and really highlights the sweetness of the carrots and the grassy-clean flavor of the parsley. With crispy carrots, creamy chickpeas, salty pistachios, and chewy raisins, the salad really has a little something for everyone! The dressing, with roast cumin and fresh lemon juice, is the perfect combination of earthy and bright flavors.
The salad is great right away, but really excellent after it’s been refrigerated overnight. I ate the leftovers for lunch all week, and the salad only improved with age. I can’t wait to make it again!
- 1 cup Quinoa
- 2 cups Water
- 3 Carrots
- 1 small can (10.5 oz) Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans), drained (about 1 cup)
- ½ cup Raisins
- ¼ cup Shelled Pistachios
- 1 cup loosely packed Fresh Parsley, chopped
- ¼ cup Olive Oil
- 1 Tablespoon Honey
- 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 Lemon, juiced
- 1 teaspoon Roast, Ground Cumin
- ⅛ tsp Cayenne Pepper
- Rinse the quinoa thoroughly in cold water until the water runs clear (not cloudy). Add quinoa and 2 cups water to a small saucepan set over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes or until the water is absorbed and a white ring is visible around the edge of each grain.
- Meanwhile, peel the carrots and cut them into thin coins. Make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, honey, lemon juice, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Season with salt.
- In a large bowl, mix the cooked quinoa, carrots, chickpeas, raisins, pistachios, and parsley. Pour the dressing over top; mix well. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.
|March 15, 2013||Posted by Lauren Keating under Lent, Mexican and Southwestern, special projects, Vegetarian or Vegan|
I’m willing to bet that when you think about enchilada fillings, sweet potato probably isn’t the first thing that crosses your mind. You’re thinking about it now though, right? And you get how sweet potato enchiladas are totally a thing?
Because they are. Sweet potatoes add the subtlest touch of sweetness that gets balanced out by spicy jalapeño peppers and mellow green enchilada sauce. (I don’t like these to be too saucy so instead of dumping the sauce over top, I dredge each tortilla in it individually. You can’t really see it in the photos, but I promise you that it’s there!)
The filing is soft and gooey and perfect, although the overall texture is really up to you: mash the potatoes as little or as thoroughly as you like. Because the filling is so soft, you really don’t need the cheese on top… it’s mainly for show. Because, well, what’s an enchilada without cheese? The idea of that just makes me sad.
These sweet potato enchiladas are surprisingly filling, and I find that one is more than satisfying when served with a little sour cream and some whole-grain tortilla chips. The recipe makes six, but the leftovers reheat great!
- 1 large Orange Sweet Potato, peeled and cut into cubes
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 small Onion, sliced
- 2 cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 Jalapeno Pepper, seeded and minced
- 1 can Old El Paso Traditional Refried Beans
- 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
- 1 teaspoon Cumin
- ⅛ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
- 6 8-inch Flour Tortillas (soft taco size)
- 1 can Old El Paso Green Enchilada Sauce
- ⅓ cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- Heat oven to 400*F.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the sweet potatoes and cook until tender, 10-15 minutes. Darin and mash.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a sautee pan set over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer half of the onions to a small dish; set aside. Add jalapeno to pan and cook 3 minutes.
- Add the mashed sweet potatoes, refried beans, and spices to the pan of onions. Mix well.
- Pour the enchilada sauce into a shallow dish. Dip a tortilla in the sauce, coating both sides. Spoon half cup filling onto center of tortilla; top with reserved onions. Roll up and place seam-side down in a 6″x8″ baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Top with cheese and bake 15 minutes, until the enchiladas are warm and the cheese is melted.
This post was brought to you in partnership with Old El Paso/General Mills. The recipe for Sweet Potato Enchiladas and all opinions are my own. Always have been, always will be.