Sunday, January 22, 2012

Crazy for Citrus. Crazy!


I am hooked on citrus right now. Hooked. HOOKED. I always love it - but for some reason the mandarins over the Christmas season took over my palette and it hasn't passed. Currently our bowls are full of clementines. They are delicious. They are sweet, and a little tart at the same time. The juice alone is divine, but their zest is also so great too. For breakfast I often will squeeze the juice of one of the clementines into my plain yogurt, or vanilla yogurt, and oh my - deelish.


Key limes - are also a sweet and sour little treat. Their zest and flesh are full of flavour. I have a delicious key lime pie recipe that I made for Chris' birthday a couple of years ago - and I may just give it another try.


Blood oranges - oh hello = wondrous crimson glory of nature. How can fruit be that colour? Seriously??? I just love them.


Mandarinquats - what-the-what? Mandarin crossed with kumquat. Super tart - super flavourful.


Sweet Clementines - oh my these gems are full of sweet, sweet flavour. I love them.


I think that I have raved about zest before. I just love it. I love adding it to so many dishes. I love to add it to strained plain yogurt, salad dressings, marinades, muffins, pancakes, everything. Well, maybe not everything like I probably wouldn't add it to... seriously - I was trying to think of something and I can't. I would add it to my seeping tea, stuffing, chili....

I zested a lemon, key limes and an orange and then put it in a ziploc bag in the freezer - and it was perfect later on. I love the idea of using the entire fruit. I have frozen lemons so that we can have lemons all winter, the zest to add to so much, and the leftovers are great in our garb-orator.


Anyways - I also love the juice of citrus as well - and add that to so many recipes as well. When I typically use the juice, I usually end up throwing the peels own the garb. So, I decided to try zesting some citrus and freeze it. And guess what? It worked!!!

Ok - I'm not going to lie, 2 clementines, 2 key limes and a lemon produce about 2/3 cup of juice and about 3 tbsp of zest, but I really think that it's worth it.

I used some of the zest to flavour strained plain yogurt, sweetened with a bit of vanilla served over berried (thawed) for dessert. And the juice, a refreshing drink. A glass filled with ice, 1/3 cup of the citrus juice, a tbsp of simple syrup and then top it off with carbonated water. Add a lime wedge, give it a stir, and you have a delicious, refreshing drink.


I have decided that I should probably try and live on some sort of a 'grove'. Is that the right word? Orange grove, lemon grove, lime grove...




Oh Sunday mornings. I just love them. I especially love it when the weather isn't ideal - like today for example - we're having a wind storm. For some reason, when the weather is miserable, I don't feel guilty about staying in my pj's, puttering, watching silly tv, laundry and not taking 'hootch and scootch' for a walk right away (thank goodness for our fenced backyard).

So, I just plan on having a lay-low Sunday - maybe go later to shop for some runners, maybe pick up some potatoes to try and make Hasselback potatoes for dinner and maybe some ingredients for a meatloaf. Not sure why - but I have a bit of a craving.

I have been trying to make a big dinner on Sunday nights so that there are leftovers for Monday night's dinner. I love leftovers, and so does C. Thankfully - because they are a lifesaver. I have been doing this so that I have time to go to the gym after work on Monday nights and not feel the need to rush home for a dog walk and make dinner. It's been working well so far - and I love having time to make dinner on a Sunday afternoon - not being rushed.

Last Sunday I made a pork loin, grits with blue cheese and roasted peppers. The grits turned out really well - and I think may have tasted better the next day.

The pork loin had the bones in - and it was the first time that I had made this cut of meat. It was delicious and super easy.


Roasted Pork Loin with Mustard Glaze

Pork loin - bone in
1/2 cup of dijon mustard
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 tbsp honey

Pre-heat the oven to 375.

In a skillet, drizzle a tbsp of pepper and heat the pan to medium to high heat. Season all sides of the pork loin with kosher salt and pepper. Place the pork in the pan and brown all sides - about 2 -3 minutes per side. Place the pork loin into a roasting dish.

In a small bowl, mix all of the remaining ingredients and cover the top side of the pork loin.

Cover the roasting dish with aluminum foil and roast for about an hour and 3/4. If you have a meat thermometer, check it at this time, check for 170.


Remove it from the oven and let sit for at least 5 minutes before slicing.


I sliced the chop and placed it on top of the grits, sided it with roasted peppers that were drizzled in balsamic vinegar, and then topped with gala apples that were simmered in a bit of water and maple syrup.

Alright - some food for thought - think about leftovers to make your life just a bit easier.



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

snow day.

We are snowed in. Well, not really. But we have a lot of snow. A lot for Victoria standards. I love it. It's beautiful - I especially love it if I don't have to go out in it. But, I do. Nowhere really exciting - just work, walking the dogs, and that's about it. Wow, life is boring.

The dogs love it. They have been digging in it. Rolling in it. Wrestling in it. The thing that happens when they are rolling, digging, wrestling is that they get snowballs stuck to them. Mostly on their feet and their bellies. They're not the most fun things to pull off of them - and they don't particularly love having them pulled off. That's the price you pay I guess for loving the snow.

Things that I do when it snows:

- dislike driving in it, BUT, loved being driven by someone else
- shovel my neighbour's pathway. Not, THIS neighbour. Our neighbour Lou and Evelyn. They don't have a car, so they just need their sidewalks done.
- drink hot chocolate when I come in from the cold
- dress Jozie in a sweater
- wear a toque
- wear winter boots with my pants tucked in
- drive like a 90 year old

Week two of Chris making dinner in the slow cooker. What a treat.


One Pot Wonder Chicken Catch-a-tori

3 chicken boneless skinless chicken breasts - cut into pieces
1 can of tomatoes - we used San Marzano - if you can find them - give them a try, they are deelish
1 onion - chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic - minced
3 peppers - chopped
1 tbsp of italian seasoning
Red pepper flakes - 1/2 tsp - or however much you like
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

In your slow cooker, add everything but the shredded mozzarella. Cook it on auto - or whatever level your slow cooker has, and let cook for 4-5 hours.

Just before you are ready to serve, cook your pasta until al dente. Add the mozzarella, place the lid back on, and let it sit for about 5 minutes.

This was a super flavouful dish, it made the house smell divine, and was super tasty.

Alright, be safe in the snow (if you have some).



Sunday, January 15, 2012

Oh Neighbour!

I did the following on this beautiful Sunday:

1. I woke up to a blanket of beautiful white snow. It was the first snowfall of the year in Victoria.
2. I got homesick for my hometown because of all the gorgeous snow. It reminded me of a glorious childhood playing in the snow for hours.
3. I made the most delicious mango smoothy with my new KitchenAid blender that Santa brought me for Christmas. It was the first time that I have used it. I just used frozen mango, vanilla yogurt and the juice of clementine orange.
4. I hung 3 framed pictures of the farm that Chris' dad grew up on Ivy, Ont. I gave him the pictures 3 years ago for Christmas. We've been busy, I guess.
5. I took my dogs for a long walk in the beautiful winter's day.
6. My neighbour across the street said to me 'How do you like me now, neighbour?' This is explained more in detail below, because it is GOOD.
7. I made hot chocolate for Chris and I and we watched a little football.
8. I made grits with blue cheese, a pork loin rack with a mustard, honey, apple cider glaze, sauteed apples and sauteed peppers with a bit of balsamic.
9. I have a mango/blueberry (low fat, low sugar) cobbler in the oven.
10. I am about to sit down and watch the season finale of 'Hell on Wheels'.

I want to share #6.

I had just stepped out the front door. I was trying to organize my gloves, the dog's leashes and lock the front door. Across the street, at the duplex, in front of the house (on the street) is a Ford Ranger parked. Music starts blasting. Hardcore rap - the kind that you don't want your mom, dad, grandma, child, niece... to hear. Even Jozie was shocked - probably not because of the 'lyrics' but because it was really loud. I walk down the steps - ready to start the walk, and the truck pulls off to drive away to the end of our street's cul-de-sac. As we leave the end of the driveway, the Ranger drives past. I glance up and can see the passenger's window is down about 2 inches and as the truck drives by, I hear:

"How do you like me now, neighbour?'

I smile. And then I have a little chuckle. And then I smile again and think:

1. I didn't even know that you are my neighbour.
2. Uh, have you heard my husband's car stereo listening habits? (He'll be deaf in no time)
3. Wow, you are wild and crazy! Did your friend let you touch the volume control for the first time?
4. And, for the entire walk I had 'How do you like me now?' by Billy Ray Cyrus in my head. Which I am pretty sure is not the effect that he was going for.


Grits with Blue Cheese

1 cup of grits - aka - polenta or cornmeal
4 cups of liquid - I used 2 cups of chicken stock and 2 cups of water
Pinch of kosher salt
1 tsp of italian seasoning
1 tbsp of butter
1/2 cup of blue cheese

In a large saucepan, pour in the grits, and slowly pour in the liquid, whisking the entire time the liquid is being added to the grits.

Turn the heat on to medium and start stirring with a wooden spoon. Add in the salt and italian seasoning. You have to stir quite frequently to prevent it from sticking to the bottom and from bubbling out of control. The grits will start to thicken and you can turn the heat down to medium-low. Continue to stir for another 10 minutes or so.

When it is at a thick consistency, you can turn off the heat, add in the butter and blue cheese and stir it in until it is all melted.

It's a delicious side dish - a bit time consuming - but nothing hard.

If you didn't want to add the cheese, you could add roasted garlic - and they would almost taste similar to roasted garlic mash potatoes. We'll try that next.