Grilled Romaine Hearts w/ Walnut Oil

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Coming straight off the heels of my #24mealsin24hours Food Resolution with my husband & siblings, I decided to do a detox week. The meal challenge was actually pretty cool! Except for the fast food. My digestive system has become kind of snobbish. Sorry. I’ve tried talking to her but she’s over her young, carefree “I’m up for anything!” days. One of our meals in the challenge was Garlic BBQ Chicken (yes! we fired up the grill and it was oh so good) so I decided to combine grilling and veggies this week. Since I made that decision, I found myself obsessing over the grilling potential of everything I see in my fridge. Can you grill hummus? Probably not.

What did I settle on? Grilled Romaine Lettuce! I’ve always thought that I should eat more salad, since I tend to lean towards the cauliflower-broccoli-mushroom type of veggie dishes rather than the lettuce-cucumber-tomato combo. I usually buy lettuce though and for some reason all the fridges I’ve ever used seem to hate my guts and I always open my veggie drawer the next day and see a saddened, frozen / soggy / slimy / discoloured mass of leaves staring at me, daring me to eat them! it’s like the Vegetable version of the game of Chicken. And I always lose.

So today I decided to preempt the game and grill that sucker. I decided to use walnut oil instead of regular oil because lettuce is still lettuce no matter what you do and I really do like nutty flavours (which in no way is meant to draw a comparison to my behaviour at times). Walnut Oil tolerates medium-high heat so I knew that I couldn’t really char the lettuce too much. That was fine with me, especially since the walnut flavour really comes through nicely.

Grilled Romaine Hearts w/ Walnut Oil

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 9 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1 Romaine Lettuce Heart

1 tbsp Walnut Oil

1/2 tsp Black Pepper (or more if desired)

1/4 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes (more or less if desired)

Parmesan Cheese, for topping

Instructions

Fire up your BBQ grill or a grill pan on your stove. Mix oil, peppers & salt in a small bowl or plate. Cut Romaine heart in half, keeping the leaves intact at the base on each side. Paint the cut sides with most of the oil mixture and place on grill, cut side down. Let cook for 5 minutes. While cooking, paint the outside with the remaining oil mixture. Flip over and grill the other side for 3 minutes, taking care not to let the leaves detach.

So much work, right?

So much work, right?

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Remove from grill and cut the base off, separating the lettuce leaves. Top with Parmesan cheese. Add more pepper if desired.

In my opinion, the red pepper flakes really give the lettuce a nice kick. I had this for dinner with some hard boiled eggs & grilled asparagus, and I feel really satisfied. All I need now is for someone to make me some tea. Any takers? My sister left her laptop charger at my house the other day, so I’m considering holding it for ransom until she makes me some. :D

It's the type of meal you want...in SUMMER! (If you've watched Frozen recently and have a sister  that loves Olaf, you'll get this)

It’s the type of meal you want…in SUMMER! (If you’ve watched Frozen recently and have a sister that loves Olaf, you’ll get this)

Indi: 1. Romaine: 0. Bring on the Boston, Bibb & Iceberg!

Goat Cheese Ravioli w/ Walnut Wine Sauce

I did it! I made ravioli from scratch! Scratch! As in I made the pasta from flour and eggs and ran it through my pasta maker and filled it and sealed it and cooked it and it was edible!
Hello, Beautiful.

Hello, Beautiful.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that making Ravioli is one of my Food Resolutions for 2014. It’s safe to say that its been my most daunting task as well because I mean it’s pasta! From scratch! Ok I have to stop saying that. But seriously, it was awesome.
 
Ravioli has got to be the coolest pasta there is. These cute little squares filled with endless combinations of herbs, cheese, veggies or meats. You don’t need to eat as a side dish, its a meal in itself. And how do you cook it? You boil it for 8 minutes. That’s it. Regular pastas just give you the pasta. Ravioli has that extra surprise filling.
 
I don’t really see much Ravioli available in Guyana, so I was overcome with the desire to make my own. Because it freezes pretty well, I thought that it would be nice to spend a lazy Sunday once every 2 months making about 2 or 4 dozen (the recipe below gives you 24) and freezing for a rainy day, or for that day when you can barely drag yourself out of bed because you stayed up late watching TV the night before and just didn’t have a chance to cook. While I used specific tools and it’s a little labour intensive, making the recipe doesn’t dirty a lot of bowls, so you have a very easy cleanup afterwards. Alternatively, if you have your own method of making ravioli and are just here for the recipe, that’s cool too.
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This is an extremely picture heavy post, so be forewarned.
 

Goat Cheese Ravioli w/ Walnut Wine Sauce

Makes 24 Ravioli
 
Tools you need:
Kitchenaid Mixer w/ Dough hook
Pasta Roller Attachment
 
Pasta:
1 3/4 cup All Purpose Flour
2 large Eggs
1/4 tsp Salt
 
Filling:
1 1/2 cups Goat Cheese,
12 whole walnuts
Minced DriedThyme
Black pepper
 
Sauce:
6 tbsp. Walnut Oil
6 tbsp. White Wine
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
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Make Ravioli:
Combine the Flour & Salt in your mixer. Add the eggs and mix on medium speed until the dough starts to stick together and form a ball. Switch to your dough hook and let it knead the dough for about 2 minutes. You can add more (about 1/2 tsp at a time) flour or water (or even a little olive oil) if needed. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for a minute. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for about half an hour before you roll it out. 
 
In the meantime, Cut each walnut into half. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread walnuts in a pan and toast for 7-8 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
 
After the 30 minutes. separate the pasta into 4 parts and roll out slightly. Run the Pasta through the maker. Remember, what you put in is what you get out, so if you put in a misshapen blob, you’re not going to get the most evenly shaped or beautiful pasta. If the pasta starts to come apart, just add more flour.
Processed with Moldiv

You’ll see attempts 1-4… Do I get kudos for most improved?

 
Place one pasta sheet in the ravioli tray and press other tray on top of it to create indents in the pasta. Fill each indent with 1 tsp of the goat cheese, a walnut half & a pinch of thyme & black pepper. Place 2nd pasta sheet on top and press edges down. Remove from tray (this is delicate work) and use either a ravioli cutter or a regular knife to cut the sheets into ravioli squares, taking care not to cut into any filling. Use a fork to crimp each the edges of each piece together.
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Make Sauce:
Heat Walnut (or olive oil) in a skillet. Add wine salt, pepper & flakes and cook until most of the wine has cooked off (when the bubbling has nearly stopped and the liquid has reduced).
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To cook Ravioli immediately: Bring an extremely salted pot of water (like the ocean) to boil. Drop Ravioli in boiling water and boil for approximately 8 minutes. Remove, drizzle sauce on ravioli and enjoy.

 
To Freeze: Let pasta air-dry almost completely. Store in a freezer safe container, placing a sheet of wax / parchment paper between each layer of pasta.
 
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And that’s it! I also started coming up with different combinations and I cant wait to try each and every one of them. For now I’m bringing this one to Fiesta Friday
 
I’ll be working on another Food Resolution this weekend – eating 24 meals in 24 hours with Rabin & my siblings. It started out as a joke resolution by my brother in January and ended up being a challenge that nobody dared us to do. We’re also doing it partially to celebrate his birthday (although we’re very late!). Don’t worry, we have rules, and no food will be wasted nor will we eat to the point of gluttony. If you’re interested or want to silently laugh / judge / support us, follow me at @illcookyouwash on Twitter. My siblings and Rabin will also tweet from my account so you can witness our culinary ‘jackass’ style endeavour. Wish us luck!
 

Breakfast Biscuits

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I’ve become obsessed with cashew butter. It’s by far the best of all the butters – better than peanut, better than almond, better than jam! (Ok I may be embellishing cause I’m not a fan of jam and bread to begin with), but I’m not embellishing how much I love cashew butter. Its crazy.

My recent food dilemma has been what I should put the cashew butter on. The thought of it on bread is a little gross to me. I wanted something slightly sweet but tame enough to be breakfast-like and filling. Which made me think of Stefani’s Coffee Buttermilk Biscuits with Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Butter over at the Cupcake Project. I made these biscuits a while back and Rabin and I ate them nonstop until we felt vaguely nauseous but still wanted more. Instead of chocolate cinnamon butter, I used a mascarpone icing to top it because of a very scientific and technical reason – I had a lot of it in the fridge left over from a previous baking experiment.

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

Attempt #1 using Stefani’s Recipe

The first time I made it, I followed the biscuit recipe exactly (steep the beans in butter! How genius!) but this time I wanted to finish it quickly because it was early evening and of course I left everything until the last minute and didn’t even start dinner and I was already hungry. 

Cropping can really save a gal from the embarrassment of having to explain why two biscuits are missing…

It’s hard to find snacks that aren’t granola bars, aren’t overly sweet, are healthy, and can be used for breakfast, and this is totally a keeper. In making this recipe, I decided to further healthify it a bit and switched out the all purpose flour for whole grain flour (with flaxseed).

I admit it. The fork is there solely for the picture. I usually devour this in 3 bites.

I admit it. The fork is there solely for the picture. I usually devour this in 3 bites.

Stefani’s recipe is pretty great as is, but you can check out my variation below. 

Breakfast Biscuits

  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

3/4 cup butter
2 1/4 cups Whole wheat / Multigrain flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 °F. Stir sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a bowl. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add buttermilk & vanilla and stir until clumps form. Knead mixture briefly – about 30 seconds. 

Transfer dough to floured counter and pat out until 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick. Use a round cookie cutter (I used a 2″) or shape of your choice and cut out dough. Place biscuits on a cookie sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. Bake for 12 minutes. Allow to cool and top with jam, jelly or butter of your choice.

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And yes. I know cashew butter isn’t pictured at all. It wasn’t because I was eating another biscuit loaded with it while I was taking these pictures… *averts eyes* *cough cough*

I’m bringing this to Angie’s Fiesta Friday Party as well.

So that’s it. I’m planning to whip up a batch of this on Sunday for the upcoming week and toss in some dark chocolate chips (That’s healthy, right?). I’m hoping that I can get my sh*t together this weekend and not stumble through another week like a drunk hobo. These biscuits are the first step! I hope. 

Have a great weekend, and also where the H-E-Double Hockey Sticks did this year go? For those of you that made resolutions, how has your progress been? I made some exciting progress on my Food Resolutions. I’m totally gonna update my page next week. I promise. 

TTT: Layouts & Eating well

I’m back today with Three Things Thursday, hosted by Salma at The Write Balance, Raj from Pink Chai Living and Nisha from Love Laugh Mirch
 
My new Page Layout
I continue to try to improve my blogging technique, which means trying to learn as much as I can as often as I can. I thought that my Blog front page needed a bit of an upgrade, so I’m pleased to present my new front page! I’m especially proud of the header. Thank you as well for all the lovely comments on my new blog layout. Email followers, I know you read my posts in your inbox so you wouldn’t see the new layout, but you’re all more than welcome to check it out now! I LOVE the painted look so much. I feel super artsy every time I look at it and it makes me hope that you think I’m writing this post from some Parisian café, sipping on some café au lait, blushing as the cute waiter winks at me. Hmm… maybe travel romance writing is my true calling!

 
Unmasking Superfoods
I picked up this book on my last jaunt to one of my favourite places on earth – the bookstore. I find food related books so interesting and I believe that being an informed consumer is so important to your overall health. I don’t think that it makes you invincible and we can all fall prey to a myriad of the nasty diseases and illnesses out there, but I’ve also read enough books about brands and advertising to know that labels are very misleading and products masquerading as ‘healthy’ or ‘all natural’ can barely meet the minimum definition of those words. We’re hit with food trends every single day, and its important to know what’s real and what isn’t. I started reading this book and its shocking to realize the limited number of studies and data that actually support these so called ‘super foods’. Some things have confirmed what I’ve previously read, and other chapters have obliterated what I thought I knew.
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Shopwell App
I came across this App on the ITunes App store. Its the most clever little app ever. Basically you input your basic information and the reasons why you’re trying to eat healthier. You indicate your nutrient / food preferences, what you’d like to avoid (added sugar, artificial sweeteners), and any allergies you have. Whenever you go shopping, just scan the barcode of the item that you’d like to purchase and the app will tell you whether that product is a good match for you. How cool is that!? I love being an informed consumer. I scanned my doritos and a bottle of coke I had laying around the house for emergencies and both were terrible matches for me :( I ended up running around my kitchen scanning items like I was on some crazy grocery game show. I always wanted to go on Supermarket Sweep and this was like realizing my dream in its own twisted way.
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Now for a bit of housekeeping: I’ve come to a decision about my blog posts. I love Three Things Thursday and how welcoming and lovely Salma & Raj have been. I would like to occasionally add an extra recipe during the week though, so I think I’m going to limit myself to only posting my 3 Things twice a month, so essentially, every other week. I’d like to be first and foremost a food blog.
 
Have a good day guys and I’ll see you right back here tomorrow. Same bat time, same bat channel (this may be slightly out of date).

Channa Saag-ish

Forget Superfoods for a second. Let’s think Supermeals. Spinach, Channa, Turmeric, Ginger, Yogurt & a touch of Olive oil are the main elements in this meal. All of these ingredients are well documented sources of nutrition and I’m so happy to share my recipe with you today.

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At the end of June, an eclectic group of us went to an Indian Restaurant for my Mom’s birthday, and I ordered the Channa (Chickpea) Saag with my go-to curry vehicle, Garlic Naan. I’ve had Paneer Saag before, which essentially is paneer cooked in a spinach puree. I generally actually prefer it to paneer in a tomato based curry. So I took a chance and ordered the Channa saag. It totally paid off. I enjoyed the chickpea saag immensely – it was wholesome and filling and not overly spiced.

So I decided to try it on my own.

Made with Repix (http://repix.it) Most indian recipes call for heavy cream. I approach heavy cream the way I approach fried food – I’ll never cook it because seeing it turns me off, but I’ll eat if someone else makes it and I don’t see how it’s prepared. Yes. Reality is fine until it’s inconvenient, ok?

I still wanted the creaminess in the dish, so I opted to add a little low-fat yogurt . I also used spinach that I had in my freezer, so there was enough stored liquid there to cook adequately.

Channa Saag-ish

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Channa Saag-ish

5 cups spinach, tightly packed

3/4 cup cooked chickpeas

1 clove garlic

1/2 large onion

1/2 tsp grated ginger

1 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp turmeric

Red pepper flakes

3/4 tsp salt

3 tbsp. fat free yogurt

1/2 tbsp olive oil

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

Warm the oil in a pan. Add minced onion, & garlic and let cook until slightly browned. Add cumin seeds & ginger and toast briefly until fragrant. Add garam masala, turmeric, salt & red pepper flakes. Stir to combine and let cook for 30 seconds.

Add Spinach and stir to combine with mixture. Cover and let simmer for 1 minute. Uncover, add yogurt, and using an immersion blender (or regular blender), puree mixture. If you find it too dry or the yogurt makes things a gross colour, just add a bit of water. Made with Repix (http://repix.it) Add channa, stir and cover.

Let simmer for 2 minutes or until desired liquid consistency is achieved. Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

Serve with rice (brown, basmati or jasmine) or naan. Alternatively, stuff in pita bread and pack for lunch. Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

I actually put this together pretty quick. If you have frozen cooked channa (or in a tin, just make sure you wash it thoroughly), the hardest thing you have to do is mince the onions, garlic & ginger. I’m also bringing this to my Fiesta Friday crew. It feels like ages since I’ve properly chatted with the gals (and guys) so I can’t wait to visit all of you!

So Rabin’s verdict on the meal? “So delicious. It tastes very Greek.” :s …Andddd there you have it. I really can’t cook like an Indian even though I’m of Indian descent. So I present to you the first Greek/Indian curry. *Bows* Maybe I should run with it and open a restaurant? Opa Namaste has a cool ring to it, doesn’t it?

Forgotten Joys: Kitchen Playlist #2

Happy 4th of July! And Belated Canada Day! And Early Caricom Day! If you’re in the US, Canada or the Caribbean, you enjoyed or are enjoying a long weekend right now. Which means lots of food, drink and relaxation. Hope that the rain hasn’t washed out your plans too badly. Today’s I’m taking it easy which means I don’t have a recipe to share (not that a recipe is stress, but you know what I mean). Right now I’m channeling my X-men: First Class nerdiness and enjoying a Bitburger Beer with my family. If you get this reference, you’re now one of my favourite people.

Where is Schmidt?

Where is Schmidt?

So I’m sharing some of my favourite tunes with you for your Party / BBQ / Friday Afternoon. The Songs from my previous Playlist are still some of my favourites and are still very current, but I have room in my heart for many songs.

 

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

Contrary to the order of these pictures, I did actually have my Coffee first.

I always forget the healing power that Music can have. I’ve been having a tough week and I almost didn’t even write this post. But I decided to listen to my old Spotify playlist and literally felt better within the first line of the first song. I remember when I first started High School, my Music Teacher had a poster on her wall that said “if music be the food of love, play on” . It always stuck with me and I didn’t learn until much later that it’s a quote from the Shakespeare Play, Twelfth Night. I was always the one in my family to have the eclectic musical taste and I’m proud to admit that I’ve converted my brother to be as musically random as I am.

Today’s list has music from recent TV shows, older TV shows, the Top 40 list, one or two I heard in various stores (thank you Shazam!!), and a recommendation or two from friends. There’s even a kind of old song there that popped into my head the other day – no idea how I know it but I got obsessed with it.

I’m bringing my rockin’ playlist to Fiesta Friday and Three Things Thursday although I’m a little late.

I also have to thank Alex at Dinner Daydreams for featuring me on her Blog Tour this week! Much appreciated Alex, I love your blog as well and I’ll be back next week with my features.

So hope you enjoy the music, the weekend, the BBQ, the rain, and anything else that brings you joy.

Avocado Oil Vinaigrette & Quick Steamed Vegetables

How was your week? Mine was filled with a rainbow of feelings and let’s just say that I’m pretty emotionally wiped. Hug your loved ones, ok? Life is seriously the craziest thing.
 
Weird that I’m visiting you on a Monday afternoon, isn’t it? Today I’m making your Monday a little easier by sharing a healthy recipe that can be whipped up in literally 3 minutes.  
Spoiler alert! It's this.

Spoiler alert! It’s this.

 
The hook? Avocado Oil. Who knew there was such a thing? I had a Twitter follower mention Avocado oil to me and since then, I’ve been obsessed with it. Would it be green? Can I cook with it? Does it retain the healthy properties of regular avocado? Yes, yes and shocker! Yes. I bought a tin and it was a bit expensive, but this isn’t the kind of oil you cook with regularly. It’s high smoke point makes it tolerant to heat and ideal for cooking. The oil is not avocado green, but has the greeny-yellowy tint that olive oil can have. Avocado oil is made from the pressed fruit of the avocado and contains high levels of Vitamin E and has been compared to Olive Oil as heart healthy. It has been used to treat osteoarthritis, lower cholesterol, and retains the monosaturated fat element that regular avocados do. Research on the benefits continue, and so will my experimentation. 
Made with Repix (http://repix.it)
 
I figured that the best way to taste an oil was to make it into a vinaigrette. The vinegar cuts the sheer oiliness and adds that little bit of acid that brings everything together cohesively. I always prefer apple cider vinegar to white wine and red wine vinegar because it doesn’t overwhelm you and allows the other flavours to come through. Which is definitely a plus in this case.
Made with Repix (http://repix.it)
 
So what does one do with vinaigrette? Make salad, duh. This time though I decided to step it up a bit and actually toss it with some steamed vegetables. Whenever I smell steamed broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, I’m reminded of my childhood in a good way. Specifically, I remember sitting at the dining table at my Grandma’s house with lots of people around me. Steamed veggies were a staple at any family event or holiday, and having lots of family around at the time guaranteed that this dish would make an appearance regularly.
 
Steaming vegetables can be a tricky thing. I know that generally, if you overcook a veggie, you tend to kill it’s nutrients and benefits. That of course gets me neurotic and I count the seconds or fly into a slight panic when I see the brightness of the veggies start to fade in the skillet. Cooking them in the microwave is actually a really easy way to steam without panicking and you can actually do other stuff in the meantime while it cooks (e.g. the vinaigrette!).   
 
 

Avocado Oil Vinaigrette & Quick Steamed Vegetables

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 3 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
 
Ingredients:
3 tbsp Avocado Oil
1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 clove Garlic, grated
Zest of 1/2 Lemon
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Back Pepper
Pinch Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
 
1/4 – 1/3 head each Broccoli & Cauliflower florets
1 medium Carrot, diced
 
For the Vinaigrette:
Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl. 
 
To steam veggies:
Add Broccoli & Cauliflower florets and Carrot to a microwave safe dish. Add 1.5 tbsp water and cover tightly with a plate or lid. Microwave on High for 1 minute intervals until vegetables are tender. Microwaves will vary. Mine took 3 minutes. Take extreme care in handling the bowl & lid as it will get ridiculously hot and removal of lid will expose you to LOTS of steam, so be careful.
 
Tilt bowl carefully to drain excess water. Toss vegetables with Avocado Oil vinaigrette.
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Expert tip: you can pair this vinaigrette with veggies that you’re not too fond of so they’ll be easier to eat. Plus you’ll be ingesting the hidden benefits of the oil which you can’t argue with.
 
My opinion? Avocado oil is great. With the lemon & salt, the flavor comes through beautifully and it actually does taste avocado-y. Quick dinner, side dish, or lazy day lunch. Even easier? Throw the uncooked veggies in a bowl, take to work and steam your veggies on site! Boom. Overcooking neuroses managed *drops mic* .