Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Guest Chef - Stephanie

I am very excited to have a Guest Chef for my blogpost today. It's been quite some time since I have had a guest - and not only do I love sharing their recipes - I love what they share with me, so that I can share with you.

I have had a few guests, all have given great recipes - you can check them out HERE.

Today's guest chef, is my friend Stephanie. We have known each other for a little over a year. We met at our gym and became friends while talking ground turkey from Costco as we sweated our butts off while spinning. In January, we decided to start our running adventure together and created 'Friday Night Run Club'. Or 'FNRC'. Or 'Eff'n Run Club'. Depending on the day, the weather, our moods - really depended on what we called the club. We started out with 2 members - her and myself. We picked up a few other members from time to time. Then we added our dogs - her Stella and my Magnum. Stella is a natural runner with long legs - sure could be a marathoner. Magnum, his short little legs didn't stop him from trying to keep up.

Stella. I love this dog.

We started out slow and steady - and before too long - we pretty much switched to Tuesday nights, picked up a permanent member, Natasha, and before we knew it we were ready for the TC10K. And since then, Steph has upped her running career and has done quite a few more.

When I started this 'new life' of mine - I knew that there would be struggles, wins, losses, bad days, good days and a bunch of other stuff in between. What I didn't really even think about when I started would be the friendships that I would make along the way. That didn't even cross my mind. I feel fortunate to have met Steph and a few other lovely ladies (they know who they are) who have helped make this experience way more than I ever thought it would be.

I appreciate her friendship - and the fact that she has had to listen to me bitch and moan about my weak bladder on so many different occasions. That she had me out running when I would have rather have been in front of the TV with potato chips. And she makes me laugh when I definitely need it.

Now, not only is she a great friend and workout mate - she is an incredible baker and cook.

The pictures that I am about to share - are incredible. Please don't try and eat your computer screen. 

Chocolate Pavlova - with fresh fruit, whipped cream and chocolate. Oh my.

Meet Stephanie. 

What is your favourite meal of all time (to eat?)
My favorite meal would have to be perogies. As a child my mom use to hand make them each year for my birthday only. And too this day she still makes the best (even tho she hasn't made them in years) :)

What is your favourite meal of all time to cook?
In the winter time my fav thing too cook is soup! I dont have a specific thing I like too cook, I love to experiment in the kitchen.

What is your favourite dessert to bake?
I actually never bake dessert unless we have company over but in the summer I like making pavlova with fresh fruit and cream.

Where did you learn to be such an amazing cake decorator? 
When I was 16 I got a job at a high end catering company as a dishwasher. I later became a cook. We had an inhouse baker (2 over the years) that both took me under their wings and showed me the basics of baking, filling, icing and decorating cakes. After that I learned by myself through trial and error and by having great family and friends that would order cakes and let me develop their vision into a cake. Ive never done the same cake twice, therefore I have been learning new skills with each cake.

What is your most memorable meal?
Best meal EVER was from Zambri's. A bunch of foodie friends and I went there in.our late teens. I had Steak with a blue cheese demi glace sauce. Polenta with truffle oil and brown butter sage roasted squash. Drool! Ive recreated the same meal at home a few times, but its never AS good as Zambris.

If you could have dinner with anyone - who would it be? What would you eat? And where?
I have to say Gordon Ramsey. I love how passionate he is. Id eat anything he would cook but better yet Id love to just cook with him. 

Now for her recipe. These were so incredible. So pretty. And I was being ladylike that day and only had one - but if I had to do it all over again - I would have told everyone to look out the window and then grabbed 4 or 5 or how many I could fit in my mouth/pockets and ran.

Black bean brownies

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained (15½ oz)
2 eggs
3 tbsp coconut oil
½ cup honey or agava
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
⅛ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
zest of one orange

In a food processor puree beans, once smooth-ish add the remaining ingredients except the eggs. Blend. Put in a bowl and beat in eggs (being carful not to over mix the batter at this point)
Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full. Bake at 350 or until almost puffed in the middle- approx 15 minutes.
Let cool Completly
Chocolate avocado icing
1 avacdo
1/3 cocoa powder
Honey/agave- to taste
1 tsp vanilla
In a food processor blend avacado and cocoa powder. Add more cocoa powder if you like. Add honey too taste and vanilla. Let icing set in the fridge, the cocoa will naturally thicken the icing. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

These freeze great iced. And because their is no butter in the icing you can take a frozen iced cupcake, put it in the microwave for 30 seconds, until its warm and soft in the center and have a guilt free treat.

Seriously they are as deelish as they look - maybe even better! You would never have knows that they were made from black beans or that there was avocado in the icing. 

Steph also did our little Miss Avery's 'cow theme' first birthday cake. 




Saturday, November 16, 2013

Butternut squash posing as pasta. Whoever would have thought?

I had to share this. I took it yesterday morning - he was so cuddly with his sister - I brought out the camera and he totally posed. 

I made this for dinner last weekend. It was a hit. And, I think that I may make it for dinner again tonight. Is it weird that if I make something that I like that I want to make it over and over?

It reminds me, I think that I have may have said this before, but when my mom made lasagna when we were kids. And then she made it all the time. I am not complaining - trust me - she made good lasagna - but we seemed to have it a lot. And now I know why. It was pretty easy to put together,  you can make them and stick them in the freezer - defrost and cook - and it's delicious! And considering there was something on every night of the week - having a fully stocked freezer was a must.

I haven't got into freezing meals. I have friends who do a ton of it. They freeze individual dishes so that they can pull them out for lunch or dinner - and they meal is ready. I think that it's brilliant. There are a few reasons why I think that I don't do this: 1. We have a pull out freezer in the fridge - which makes it a bit of a challenge to add in containers; 2. We have a small deep freeze - that at times, I'm not going to lie has been a little like a black hole - you put something in, and then you put something else in, and something else... and before you know it you can't remember what's at the bottom. We did a big clean out several months ago - and we turfed some stuff that probably should not have been missed - chicken, steaks...; 3. We don't have a microwave - not that you need one - but it's much easier to heat something up in a microwave in the same dish that it defrosted in; 4. I think that I just really prefer making something in the moment and eating it and having it for leftovers.

I think that if we had kids - freezing the meals would be a must. And I think that if we had a stand up deep freeze - then I would be able to see what is in there at all times and it would be easier for things not to get buried.

Anyways - let's talk this dish. Similar to my Zucchini as Pasta dish - HERE - this one used butternut squash. I LOVE butternut squash. I almost always either make a soup with it - or chop it up and add it to a hash type dish.

Butternut squash 'pasta'

1 medium sized butternut squash
1 medium sized onion - diced
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts - diced
1/2 cup white wine
2 garlic cloves - minced or grated
1 red pepper - thinly sliced
2 cups mushrooms - thinly chopped
1 cup light ricotta
1/2 cup grated parmesan

Using a peeler - peel thin lengthwise strips of the squash. Once you get to the center- it's time stop. I wrap my squash up and use it for soup or in a stir-fry.

In a skillet - with a drizzle of olive oil - saute the onion until it becomes translucent. For about 10-15 minutes. Add in the chicken and continue cooking until the chicken is tender. Add in the garlic and the white wine. Scrape up all the flavourful bits and then add in the squash. Cook for about 5 minutes and then add in the pepper and mushrooms. Continue cooking until the squash is el dente and the vegetables are at a consistency that you like.

Reduce the heat and stir in the ricotta and about half of the parmesan. Let it coat the squash and vegetables, and let it simmer for a couple of minutes until the ricotta is nice and warm.

Serve immediately with another sprinkle of parmesan. And enjoy.

It's not pasta - but to me it's lighter and more flavourful and much healthier. You could make this vegetarian, just taking out the chicken. And could make it vegan - removing the chicken and cheeses - and adding a bit of vegetable stock to give it more of a sauce. 

I hope that you're enjoying your Saturday - breathing in the sun if it's out where you are.



Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Green with eggs and ham

I have had this thought on my mind the past couple of days. I am not sure what brought it on - maybe it was coming back from paradise and reflecting on 'my world'. Or if it was a huge change that someone I know is making in their life - throwing everything out (or so to speak) and just starting over. Or if it is because it's November, the raining season is among us, the nights are longer and darker and I have more time to sit and ponder instead of heading down to the tele and watching RHofNJ.

Settling. That's what I have been thinking about. I just sort of have been wondering - if the decisions that we make in our life are because we have settled for them, or is it because we have put thought into these decisions and that is what we have decided on? I guess there are a couple of different ways to look at it. And as I write this - I wonder if it is really 'settling' that I am thinking about - or is it in fact the decisions that we made or make?

I think about health and fitness for example. Is the reason that I am overweight because I settled for this because I thought that this is the way that I am destined to be? Or, is it because I made the decision to not live my life to the healthiest way that I possibly should? And then I can go from there and ask myself, that if I settled, would I have made a choice to change and work hard to turn my life from not taking care of myself - to making myself my number one priority?

I guess what I am thinking is that if we make a decision that eventually we feel may not have been the best for us - that it's possible to change it. But, if we make a decision and feel that we have settled, then making a change may seem impossible because it's harder to change something that we have settled on or deserve.

Maybe using the words 'settle' and 'decision' aren't the best words to use. Who knows?!?

What I feel that I am trying to say is that any decision that we make in our life, whether it be long or short term, we should feel that we have the ability to change it if it isn't the right one. And although we make a decision at one point in our lives - with or without really even knowing - we have the ability to make a change. That just because we have chosen a path doesn't mean that we have to settle on that path.

Life, love, happiness - is what we make of it. Wanting the most for ourselves is probably the most important thing - because we're worth it.


Alright - quick recipe that I love. I have said this before, and before and before that. I really like eggs. Before I started my workout program - I would probably have eggs for breakfast maybe once or twice a month. Something that we really focus on in our program when it comes to diet, is ensuring that we have protein at every meal. At first, I thought - easy. But really - it wasn't. I didn't realize that what I thought was protein wasn't really a good source. So, as a result, I introduced a lot more eggs to our diet. Chris works with a woman who has chickens - so normally we're having eggs from organic free run/free range chickens on a weekly basis. I have a couple of 'gotos' that I love to whip up - and am always trying new things. Scrambled eggs and goat cheese is still probably my all time fave - but sometimes I need to mix it up a bit.

We eat a lot of kale - so I was happy to have something else to add it too. I may need to become a kale farmer to keep up with our demand.

This Saturday morning - after a grueling spin class - I whipped these up - and they hit the spot.

Green with eggs and ham

3-4 kale leaves - chop them up into small pieces - nothing fancy - just a quick, coarse chop
6 eggs
1 tbsp italian seasoning
Chili flakes
1/4 skim milk
Ham - pre-cooked - chopped into small bite size pieces
Cheese - parmesan, cheddar - shredded - just enough to add a bit of deliciousness - maybe 1/4 cup (and if you don't want to add cheese - then don't!)

In a large skillet - drizzle a tsp of olive oil and add the kale and cook over medium heat. Saute until the greens start to slightly wilted. Add in the ham and toss it all together.

In a large bowl, crack in the eggs. Add in the italian seasoning and chili flakes. I tend to not season with kosher salt because the ham is already salty. Use a whisk and whisk the eggs up. Add in the milk and give it another whisk.

Pour the eggs over the kale and ham and with a spoon stir it all up. Stir constantly to ensure that the eggs are coating all of the kale and ham. Let the eggs cook for about 3-4 minutes. Add the cheese and stir it into the egg mixture.

And that's it.

I like to serve the eggs with a piece of whole wheat toast - and some grape or cherry tomatoes.

And that's it. Super easy, super healthy and nutritious and a super way to start the day.



Saturday, November 9, 2013

Getting back into the swing of things - which includes soup!

It's definitely becoming winter. This time last week, we were sitting in the airport in Maui getting ready to board a plane to come home. It was hot. It was 8ish pm, we were still wearing shorts and flip flops. I was crying because I didn't want to leave paradise. Husband was playing Bejeweled. I was crying because we ate the bag of Maui chips that I bought for my nephew days earlier, and I couldn't find another bag at the aiport. Husband was still playing Bejeweled. I stocked the Starbucks and spent a wad on stuff for the flight that I didn't really need. Husband... you get it.

Well, I wasn't really crying. But you know that feeling - the one that you have from an amazing holiday that you don't want to end. You know that when it ends - life goes back to normal - and our normal is no sun, surf, heat, SQ smoothies, daily Coronas with lots of lime, flip flops with everything and being almost permanent residents on the beach.

So, as we have come home and have wonderful memories - it's time to get back into the swing of things. Swing of things for me = work, dog walks, working out, cooking, grocery shopping, catching up on HW of NJ, raking the leaves in the back yard - stuff like that. It's not glamourous, but it's real life - and it's full.

I couldn't decide what recipe to share tonight - so I thought I would just share a soup to help warm you up on a cold winter's night. Because friends - it's winter.  Cauliflower. Yumma. I have shared my love of cauliflower before; you can check out some of the recipes:

Mashed Cauliflower - you can pretend it's mashed potatoes.
Cauliflower fritters - these are really tasty. I think that I should make them again, soon!
Cauliflower Gratin - the picture for this one makes me want to weep. I need to make this soon too!
Cauliflower crust pizza - hello!

I see that most times when I do a cauliflower recipe - I like to share older cauliflower recipes - man I love this stuff.

Anyways - I have done a cauliflower soup before - you can see it HERE. This recipe isn't too different - just slightly. Both are hearty - and flavourful. This can remain a vegetarian or vegan friendly.

Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Curry Soup

2 heads of cauliflower - chop up the heads into florets
1 large leek - sliced into thin strips
1/2 cup white wine
3 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp of curry powder
1.5 litres of low sodium vegetable broth*
Optional: ham, chicken, tofu - some sort of protein

*If you don't have any homemade vegetable broth on hand - Pacific brand is great - and carries a very flavourful - low sodium option.

Garnish: diced up apple and plain greek yogurt

Pre-heat the oven to 425.

I like to line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean up. Place the cauliflower florets on the sheet with the garlic. Using a oil spritzer - spritz the cauliflower and garlic so that the are covered with oil (lightly), season with kosher salt. If you don't have a spritzer, no worries. Just add the cauliflower and garlic to a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and give it a good toss.

Roast in the pre-heated over for about 20-25 minutes, until they are soft and slightly roasted in colour.

In the meantime, in a large pot, drizzle about 1 tbsp of olive oil, and over medium heat, saute the leek with a seasoning of kosher salt for about 15 minutes. When the leeks are translucent, add in the white wine and scrape all of the delicious leek(y) bits off the bottom of the pan.

Add in the roasted cauliflower. Remove the skins from the garlic, and add that in as well. Add in the curry powder and give ensure that everything gets stirred in together. Add in the broth, turn the heat down slightly and let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes.

Using a hand blender, or a blender (just be careful of the hot soup) blend it all up until you don't have any chunks of cauliflower. If you are adding protein, this is a good time to do it.

Let it simmer for a couple more minutes - and then serve it up.

I like to serve it up with a dollop of greek yogurt and a bit of diced up apple, and then a slice of naan bread.

And that's it. It makes a huge pot of soup - and it freezes really well.

Alrighty friends - I hope that you're enjoying your weekend - there is one full day left. Make the most of it.



Thursday, November 7, 2013

I'm back - with a food recipe. Baked eggs for dinner or breakfast!

I have been MIA. Oh my MIA.
Missing in action.

A bit of me is a bit embarrassed. I have this food blog that I love, but I just haven't been keeping it up to date. I love it and miss it, and feel that I have sort of dropped the ball - or the kitchen spoon.

And then after my face stops blushing from being red, I remind myself that life has been full. Life has been very busy. I have so much to share; some accomplishments, some travels and then I will get to the good stuff - what started this - a recipe. I have a lot in my 'bank' right now - I just have to pick which one I should do first.

Let me get to what I have been up to:

October 13th: Running for my Life. I completed my very first Half Marathon. 21.09 kilometers. I thought that it would have been my first and last - but the day was so incredible, who knows where my Aasics will take me next. I trained for quite some time for this - and up until 15 minutes before the run started I did not think that I was physically or mentally prepared for this. Under 3 hours later, I realized that I was. The entire day was amazing. From my husband dropping me off for race time, meeting up with my running girls before hand, seeing friends and family along the run, my running girls surprising me at the end, family there to see me cross the finish line and an endless amount of chocolate milk (yes, I totally over indulged - whatevs - I just ran 21.09 km - so that was pretty much my excuse for everything)- it was the perfect day.

That's me in the green - and my hands are up b/c I just noticed my friends there and I couldn't believe that they hung around and waited - full of emotions

What I thought would be horrific, hard, trying on every joint of my body - turned out to be incredible. Don't get me wrong - there were sore joints - but that was really all that I could say would be different if I could change anything.

At the end we were given a medal - I have kept it out on the table, hutch, pretty much anywhere where I can see it. I will probably at some point have to chuck it into a drawer, but for now, it will stick close by.

After a week or two to recover - we then did a much needed vacation to Maui.

Dear Maui,

I love you and miss you. Do you miss me? 


Oh friends, that place is magical. I have heard so many people say it, and thought - oh it would be nice to visit some day - and they are all right - and I should have went sooner. We rented a condo in Kehei, right across the street from a great beach. We did a snorkeling tour where we got to see so many amazing fish and swim with turtles. Turtles!!! We did a helicopter tour of the island seeing the most amazing sites. We swam and snorkeled for hours every day. We got up nice and early and sat at our favourite coffee shop and had coffee (well not me) and smoothies. We drove to see some pretty spectacular sites. We watched the sunset almost every night. And we just enjoyed some much needed time with one another in paradise.

All in all - life has been good. I will share more pics and stories of Maui - but I need to save some stuff to talk about for another day - or what will I talk about?

Here is a new fave recipe that I am excited to share. It's a great brunch recipe, or even for dinner. I made it for my running ladies (who are also my friends BTW, but we all run together so I like referring to them as that) post workout one morning with mamosa's - and it hit the spot. It's easy, it's full of protein, and it will warm you to the core.

Baked eggs with tomato sauce and goat cheese

Homemade tomato sauce (or jarred, whatever you like) - you can find the recipe HERE (just omit the cream that it talks about at the end) - I would 1 - 1.5 cups per dish
2 eggs per person
Goat cheese

Heat the oven to 375.

In individual baking dishes, add tomato sauce.

Place them in the oven for 10 minutes so the sauce heats up.

Crack two eggs into a dish so that you can the drop each egg individually into the baking dish, to prevent them from making one big egg. Crumble goat cheese on top (as much or as little as you like) and if you have it - fresh herbs - parsley and basil would be delicious. Add a pinch of kosher salt and black pepper.

Bake for another 15 minutes.

Serve with a nice slight of toasted baguette or just keep it fresh.

The creaminess of the tomato sauce with the eggs, is warm and so full of flavour.