Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Cooking with Fire!

Our new BBQ arrived today! 

The delivery guys showed up right as I was getting home.  They made nice with the baby, brought the BBQ into the backyard for me, got it all set-up and gave a quick demo.

We got a Broil King Crown 20.  It is purty - see?

Bonus: Broil King is a Canadian company, which still manufactures in Canada!  Hooray for supporting the local economy, and for buying a product where I should fairly easily be able to get replacement parts!

After the new grill was all set up, it was time to make dinner!  Partner went on a quick trip to the Portuguese butcher shop around the corner from our home and got himself some steak.  While he was out, I soaked some skewers and chopped & marinated some veggies and then made a salad to accompany our dinner.  We also made roasted red peppers and grilled pineapple rings.

Everything was super-tasty and my belly is very, very full.

Here's the breakdown on the non-steak items:

Roasted Red Peppers:
Wash peppers and leave whole.
Brush with oil and grill until the skins have got blackened grill marks (or longer, depending on how tender you want it).
Put the cooked peppers in a paper bag and fold down (this will allow the peppers to steam themselves, thus loosening the skins for easy removal).  Alternately, you can throw them in a bowl of ice water.
Once cool enough to handle, remove the core, peel and eat!

Veggie Skewers:
The first thing you need to do is soak your wooden skewers in water so that they don't catch fire on the grill.
For today's skewers we used mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, onion and cherry tomatoes since that was what we had on hand.
I chopped them so they were all a similar size, and then put them in a bowl.
I made a quick marinade out of olive oil, red wine vinegar, rosemary, thyme, dill and garlic powder and poured it over the veggies.
We let them soak up the marinade for a bit and then put them on the sticks (much like deep-frying, putting food on sticks somehow makes it tastier). 
Cook until you get grill marks (10 minutes or so).

Grilled Pineapple:
We used a pre-cored pineapple from the grocery store.
Cut into rings, sprinkle with cinnamon, grill (turning once) until it has grill-marks on both sides (5-10 minutes).

The pineapple is my favourite.  We used to do it in the oven occasionally, under the broiler, but doing it over an open flame is tastier.

I'm thinking that next time, we should do portebello mushroom burgers. 

Do you have any favourite BBQ recipes for me to test out on our new grill?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

We're Getting a Barbeque!

Partner's birthday is in the summer.  Last year, I did not get him a very good present.  I had a 4 month old baby at that point, and there was no freaking way I was going to the mall.  Finding time to order something good online was a little bit hard to accomplish in between naps at that point as well.

Since I'm now back at work, and the baby is a little bit older, I figured I needed to get partner a good present to make up for last year.  The recent change in weather inspired me as well.

I did a whole bunch of internet research, and have ordered a Broil King Crown 20 barbeque grill!

Seeing as how our current barbeque is a camping stove, this is very exciting.  Partner is already planning on getting himself some steaks, and I'm thinking of ways to make tasty vegetarian things to cook on the new grill when it arrives.

If you have any suggestions or links for tasty vegetarian barbeque recipes, feel free to share them!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Eggplant Aftermath

This week was alright.  I got to see a good friend who I haven't had a visit with in a while (and some other ladies who live closer to home who I haven't seen in a bit either!).  I made it out to a yoga class, which is something I haven't managed to do in months
The class was a little bit odd - the instructors style didn't really make sense to me, so I think I'm going to look around for another one to try out (although this class seems to switch out instructors every few months, so I may give it another shot then).

My other major accomplishment this week was attempting an eggplant parmesan for the first time ever!  It was delicious! And quick!  Then I wondered why I'd never made one before!

I based my attempt on the recipe found in the classic Better Homes & Gardens binder-style cookbook (an older edition of this one).

Basically, you bread and fry some eggplant slices, then smother them in tomato sauce & cheese and bake it in the oven until the cheese is melty.  Simple right?

Here's how I did it!

I started by putting together a quick tomato sauce:  I threw some diced onion, garlic, carrots, celery and mushrooms in a small saucepan, let them soften a bit and then poured over some jarred strained tomatoes.  I added basil, oregano and some diced roasted red pepper and put the lid on it and let it simmer.

While the tomato sauce was cooking away, I heated some oil in the frying pan.  While the oil was heating, I cut my eggplant into 1/2 inch slices (because I had a very fat eggplant, I then cut my slices in half, but if you have a skinnier one, that won't be necessary).
I dipped the slices into an egg wash (1 egg beaten with a little bit of water) and then in some whole wheat flour (breadcrumbs would also work) to coat.  The coated eggplant went into the pan and cooked for about 4-6 minutes total.  I flipped them halfway through so they were browned on both sides.
I drained them on some paper towels so the dish wouldn't be too greasy in the end.  I then placed them in the bottom of a lasagna pan (you could use a casserole dish too!) and sprinkled some parmesan cheese over them.  Pour over your tomato sauce, sprinkle some shredded cheese on top (I had white cheddar in the house, so that's what I used, but mozzarella would work as well) and then bake, uncovered, in a 400F oven for 10-12 minutes.

While it was baking, I threw together a quick green salad with apples, walnuts and avocado and a homemade creamy honey-mustard dressing.  Then we ate!
I don't have any photos of the process, but I do have a photo of some of the aftermath:

Did I mention it was delicious?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Banana Berry Muffins

I've had a really productive weekend! 

A lot of cleaning and laundry got done, although I still haven't gotten around to the bathtub.  We cleaned up and organized the nursery after months of it being the random dumping ground for stuff we didn't immediately have a place for.  The books are now on their bookshelf!
I'm now working on plans on how to finally decorate the nursery properly (currently we have some elephant & giraffe wall decals from the dollar store).
Between that, my desire to paint the kitchen and finally sorting out the garden for this upcoming season, I think I'll be busy in the next few months.

I also spent some time in the kitchen this weekend. 
I used the breadmaker to make pizza dough, which I then divided and put in the freezer for easy meals later on.  I just have to remember to take some dough out to defrost either the night before or the morning of so that we can have pizza or calzones for dinner.
Dinner tonight was pretty tasty.  I made oven-baked tilapia fish fingers for the baby and partner.  We also had steamed broccoli, green cauliflower and carrots, and partner made roasted baby and sweet potatoes.

Right before dinner, I decided that it was time to make some muffins.  Since we had several bananas & a bag of frozen mixed berries in the freezer, Banana Berry Muffins were the obvious choice.

Don't they look good?

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
3 large bananas, mashed
1 egg
1/3 cup melted unsalted butter or margarine (if using margarine, omit the salt)
1 cup mixed berries (either frozen or fresh is fine)

Preheat your oven to 350F
In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients.  In another, smaller bowl, mix together the bananas, egg & butter and then combine with the dry ingredients.  Add the berries, give it a gentle stir so they are evenly mixed in, then pour into your prepared muffin tin. 
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

You now should have delicious muffins, perfect for breakfast or snacks.  The great thing about this recipe is that if you omit the berries and up the sugar by a 1/4 cup, you have plain banana muffins.  If you want something a little nutty, you can replace the berries with walnut pieces (or add a 1/2 cup to 1 full cup of nuts or seeds in addition to the berries).  
I hope your own muffins turn out delicious!