Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Yom Ha'atzmaut Inspired Hummus

For those of you who don't know, Yom Ha'atzmaut is Israel's Independence Day, which happened to be yesterday. Because I work for an organization that raises money for Israel, I was involved in the celebration this year and volunteered with my colleagues at the Rady Centre to help make it a great experience for the kids. There's tons of crafts and activities and it's just a really fun night for families, complete with fireworks. 

Definitely one of the highlights of the night was getting to try falafel for the first time and basically eating my weight in hummus. The hummus they had there was so fresh-tasting and it really inspired me to try my hand at making my own! I am also planning on making falafel - I have some dried chickpeas soaking as we speak!

I got this great little appetizer cookbook as a gift from my dad a while back so I thought I'd take a look and see if there was a recipe in there and sure enough, there was! 

Such a cute, little book :) 

What you will need:

14oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained (I used a 19oz can and just adjusted the measurements of the other ingredients a little bit)
1 garlic clove, crushed (garlic press works best for this)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp tahini
3 tbsp olive oil
juice of 1/2 to 3/4 lemon
salt and pepper
Pitas to make chips for dipping

Fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, chopped

I used my spice grinder to grind the coriander seed. I love this thing.

Then, just put the works into a food processor and go to town. Feel free to taste along the way, adjust the seasonings and add more olive oil if you'd like it a little smoother/runnier.

I chopped some fresh parsley, squeezed a little lemon, sprinkled some paprika and drizzled some olive oil over the top. I also added some of the reserved chickpeas to just mix in and have the few little chunks in the dip. I copied this presentation from the hummus plate I had last night!

I cut up a whole wheat pita into little pieces, put them on a cookie sheet, sprayed them with a little cooking spray and baked them in a 375 degree oven for about 5-7 minutes to serve as pita chips with this dip.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Off topic: PTE play Gunmetal Blues

Last week I took my mom to see PTE's newest play, Gunmetal Blues, described as "A rollicking parody of film noir".  It's described as "a hard-boiled lounge act, a musical mystery, film noir on stage." I was very excited as I'm a HUGE fan of musicals and PTE, of course. It runs until April 21st.

The plot is a pretty standard murder mystery; mysterious blonde, Laura Vesper (Meghan Gardiner) hires detective Sam Galahad (Andrew Wheeler) to investigate the disappearance of a wealthy heiress whose father has just committed suicide (or was he murdered?) The story is narrated by lounge singer, Buddy Toupee who occasionally narrates and occasionally interacts with the characters.

When I walked into the theatre, I was very intrigued by the set. It looked like a bar on one side and an old, run down office with a desk on the other. I'm always amazed by what PTE is able to do with their sets as they don't have a big budget like say, MTC, where they can change things around throughout. They do a really good job of utilizing different pieces to tell the story.

Photo from Winnipeg Free Press

I was very impressed by one of the characters, Buddy Toupee, who played the piano pretty much throughout the whole play. The musical wasn't your typical "Grease" or "Chicago" type where there are different songs with a clear start or finish. There was some dialogue but the music ran quite consistently throughout.

As with many PTE plays, there was a small cast - only three actors who played different characters. I'm always amazed by how the same person can put on a hat or a different coat and portray such a vastly different character than they were just portraying moments ago.

Overall, this play is worth seeing if you're into 1940s drama and you love a good mystery. It certainly didn't have me on the edge of my seat but it was entertaining and fun and perfect for a night out with my mama!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

I've always been one to follow trends when it comes to food. I love to try the "thing that everyone's talking about". I'm wondering if different food trends always spread so quickly before the days of Pinterest and Instagramming food. However, there are certain trendy foods that I'm into and some that I'm not. Yesterday I saw two different people I follow on Instagram post photos of their "pancakes" made with only a banana and two eggs. Umm...gross. What are the chances that two people I follow would both make this and Instagram it last night. Weird. Although I'm a little bit biased because I'm not a huge fan of pancakes in the first place. But seriously. Yuck.

Anyway, one of the trendy things I keep running across is pizza made with a cauliflower crust. I happen to think the crust is really important on a pizza but lots of people say the crust is more of a vehicle to get the pizza toppings in your belly. I do think crust is important but I was intrigued and thought I'd give this one a go. My mom has been making mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes for a quick, healthier side dish for a long time now.

I was actually super impressed with how this turned out! It was a little bit limp but otherwise it was a nice, chewy way to save 600-700 calories, I think. I also think it will be really good once I'm heating up the leftovers in the oven one more time. I think it'll help it crisp up even more. This also doesn't taste like cauliflower AT ALL! I mean, let's not kid ourselves, it doesn't taste like regular crust but there's no way someone would guess it's cauliflower if they didn't actually know.

This is also a great option for people who watch their carb intake or don't eat gluten. I got the recipe from this blog.


Sorry this photo of the ingredients really didn't turn out well!

What you'll need:

One large(ish) head of cauliflower
Pinch of salt
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup of mozzarella
1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
1 egg

+ sauce, cheese and pizza toppings of your choice

1. Preheat the oven and place a pizza stone or pan in there to heat up. Cut a piece of parchment paper (that will fit on the pan) and spray with a light layer of cooking oil.

2. Wash and cut up the cauliflower. Discard the stems. Throw the florets in a food processor and pulse until you get a fine chop - kind of like rice. Don't worry too much if there are a few bigger pieces here and there but do your best to chop it really fine. I did mine in two batches.

3. Dump the cauliflower into a microwave safe container, cover and microwave for about 6 minutes. It will be steamy hot when it's done.

4. Dump the cooked cauliflower into a clean tea towel, spread it out to speed the cooling. You're going to have to handle it in a few minutes so make sure it's not too burning hot.

5. Grab the tea towel and cauliflower in your hands so it's inside like a sack and then wring it out over the sink to get as much water out as possible. This is the sort of thing I would ask the bf to do (had he been home) just to get the maximum water out of it. There's no shame in that, ladies.

6. Next, throw it in a bowl with the cheese, basil, oregano, garlic powder and salt. Mix well (hands are best for this). Then, add the egg and make sure everything's really well mixed. At this point, it should come together nicely in a big ball. Like a dough ball!

7. Once everything's mixed well, form the crust on the parchment paper. Make sure the crust isn't too thick or thin - you kind of just have to use your judgement for this. I'd say my crust was probably about 1/4 - 1/8 of an inch thick. Now it's starting to look like a pizza!

8. Bake in the oven about 10 minutes until it's got a little bit of colour on the top and some around the edges too. Be careful! You're working with a really hot oven here. I set off my smoke alarm, haha. 

9. At this point, you can let it cool a little before you put the toppings on. I didn't wait very long though because I was so excited and it turned out fine. The sauce didn't get runny and the cheese didn't start to melt.

10. Last but not least, pop the whole thing back in the oven for another 6-8 minutes to finish it up! I put mine on broil for a couple minutes right at the end to get the cheese nice and bubbly. If you do this though, MAKE SURE you pay attention because it can get burnt so quickly. I actually plunk my bum down on the floor and literally watch my pizza broil when I do this, haha!

Yes, I had four pieces and I didn't feel bad after!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Off Topic: PTE Play, This is War

I hope you don’t mind but I’m going a little off-topic today and I’d like to share with you my thoughts on Prairie Theatre Exchange’s production of This isWar. If you don’t feel like reading on, just know, it was fantastic and you should definitely go see it while you still have the chance. The tickets are $35 ($27 for seniors and students) and the show runs until Sunday, March 10. 

Click here to see a clip from the play.

Photo from Winnipeg Free Press (Melissa Tait)

I’ve always been a fan of Prairie Theatre Exchange. In fact, I grew up going to plays there with my mom (mostly Robert Munsch stories) and sister and I would even go so far as to say it developed my love for theatre. Here’s why it’s awesome:
  • it’s cheap (notice this is the first point) 
  • there are all sorts of plays to choose from
  • the theatre is small so you never feel like you’re that far away or like you’re “not a part of things”
  • the actors are usually really good
  • you can bring wine in the theatre (amazing, right?)
  • it’s cheap (did I say that already?)

I shouldn’t say cheap because that sounds bad – it’s affordable. When you’re young, you just can’t afford or justify spending over $100 on a night out. At least I can’t.

To be honest, I didn’t have very high expectations for This is War. I was in the middle of a busy week and the thought of driving downtown and going just didn’t seem like something I wanted to do. Also, I’m not that into war stories and was preparing myself for lots of shooting, violence, people dying, etc. I'm also kind of embarrassed to admit that I'm a sucker for the showy stuff - costumes, sets, etc. and I knew this play wouldn't have any of that. My taste in plays hasn't quite evolved like my taste in films has (who am I kidding? I love a good rom com starring Katherine Heigl). But, I am so glad I went because it was such a great play.

The set was really simple but totally caught my attention as soon as I walked in. The whole stage and even most of the ceiling was completely covered in army camouflage netting with just a few props here and there on the stage.

I didn’t really know what to expect, as I hadn’t read much about the play before I went but I was really surprised at how captivated I was with the story. I was literally on the edge of my seat at times (seriously!). Without giving too much away, the play is about four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. The story is told through each of them talking to a reporter who you don’t see or hear. Then, it is acted out showing different character’s points of view. Sounds confusing but it really wasn't. 

I really appreciated the way the script didn’t sound so “scripted”. The actors said “um” and “uh” just like normal people talk.

Overall, the play wasn’t so much about the war but more about how the war affects different people in different ways and how relationships are developed and affected throughout that war.

There’s a lot of swearing and even some sex though so just be aware, it’s not for children!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Vegan Moose & "Cheese"

I've been cutting back trying to cut back on my meat intake lately. I watched some documentaries on Netflix. They're very convincing!! Anyway, I'm not going to start preaching or anything because there are many points to be made about the benefits of veganism, many of which meat eaters don't like to hear. I myself am a meat eater but I have been trying to eat more vegetables and I love to cook and try new things so why not try something vegan?

This recipe is from a blog called Healthy Happy Life and is written by a vegan woman who lives in NYC. Her blog is obviously a pretty big deal. One time I emailed to ask her what she fed her cat because I was curious about how she dealt with her beliefs vs. what her cat eats. She never answered me. I swear I wasn't trying to be obnoxious! I was genuinely curious.

Anyway, I made this recipe the other day and I HIGHLY recommend it. Better than any salad I've ever had.

Another reason why I wanted to try this recipe is because I made a veggie burger from her blog a couple of weeks ago and discovered how yummy nutritional yeast is and wanted to use it again!

This Mac & "Cheese" is really good but it's best to get the cheese part out of your head because it doesn't really taste like cheese. Doesn't mean it isn't yummy because it was delicious! Even my super meat-eating boyfriend genuinely enjoyed it. It just doesn't taste like cheese.

This one is her Vegan Mac & Cheese.

6-7 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 1/2 cups plain soy milk
1 cup sweet potato, mashed
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped.
8 oz pasta - I used a whole wheat moose-shaped pasta I got at Ikea Market! 


1. Cut up the sweet potato (so it cooks faster) and steam or microwave it. I steamed it on the stove as that's the easiest way for me. 

I got this steamer basket at Ikea but you can pretty much get them anywhere. You just fill the bottom of the pot with a little water, put whatever you want in the basket and then cover.

2. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. 

3. While the pasta's cooking, mix the other ingredients in a bowl.

4. When the sweet potato is ready, mash it and add it to the bowl. I didn't quite mash mine enough so I ended up with orange chunks in the sauce so make sure you mash it really fine. 

5. When the pasta is ready, add it to the sauce. You shouldn't need to heat the sauce but if you'd like to put the works on the stove, that'll make sure it's nice and piping hot! 

I added some panko to the top for that extra crunch!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

NYE Appie: Smoked Salmon & Arugula Flatbread

Happy New Year! This is my first post of 2013 and I know it's cliche to post a "looking back on 2012" blog but I think 2012 was one of the biggest in my life so far. So I'm going to do it anyway. I finished my IPP, graduated CreComm, moved in with my bf and started working in my first career job. Overall, it's been a really great year and it makes me wonder what 2013 has in store for me!

Now, the first thing you should know before I post one of my NYE appetizer recipes is that I'm a bit of a New Years Eve Scrooge (if there is such a thing). I love the holiday season but new years is always such a disappointment. I feel like if I try to plan something (which I always love to do), no one wants to commit in case something better comes up. I also hate the cold so going out isn't very appealing to me and getting a cab is impossible. So, with all these things stacked against it, NYE isn't ever that spectacular. Last year, we went to a wedding which was perfect because it was planned well in advance, we could dress up and party without having to "put much effort in" so to speak.

Anyway, last night, my bf and I decided just to stay in at our cozy apartment and have a night just the two of us. It was our first NYE in our own place, after all! I wanted to make the night a bit special however, so I made a bunch of appetizers and we drank wine and had a little party for two.

Here's what I made from the Sobeys Inspired magazine:

P.S. This is a great appetizer to serve at parties because it's served basically at room temp. It can sit for an hour or two and not be completely gross.

What you'll need:
- 1 pkg of naan bread (comes in a pack of 4 so you'll have 4 mini salmon flatbreads
- 1 1/2 cups tightly packed arugula
- 1 8oz block of cream cheese
- 1 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp capers
- 4 green onions, chopped
- 1 pkg smoked salmon (lox) - make sure it is cold smoked
- S&P

1. Bake the naan bread in a 375 degree oven for about 8 minutes or until it crisps up a little bit. Remove and cool.

2. Combine 1 cup of arugula, cream cheese, mustard, S&P and lemon juice (I always use freshly-squeezed) in a food processor. Pulse until well combined.

3. After the naan bread has cooled, spread the cream cheese mixture evenly.

4. Top with the smoked salmon, capers and green onions.

5. Then, top with the remaining arugula and cut into easy to handle pieces.

I also made stuffed mushrooms and we had a lovely cheese/meat plate!

And the super classy Instagram photo:

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Dedicated to my Sissy - Quinoa Turkey Nuggets

I know what you're going to say. I should probably just rename this blog to something like, "Quinoa Diaries" but I just love the stuff. And, it's versatile and healthy so I'm not going to apologize for constantly posting recipes about it. Also, it's not my fault because my bf bought me an entire cookbook dedicated to quinoa! I know, super exciting!

These little nuggets are delicious, good for you and super crunchy. They are fantastic on their own or with your favourite dip! I'm a honey-dill girl myself so I've included how I make mine as well.

I also want to dedicate this blog post to my sissy because I think this would be an amazing recipe for her to make. She plays college basketball in Lethbridge and is new to the whole cooking/taking care of herself thing. It's definitely 4 to 18-year-old friendly (and beyond) and would be awesome nutrition for getting her through a million sidelines (you don't wanna know). AND SHE COMES HOME IN A WEEK! Sorry, just got a little excited there. Anyway, Emily, this one's for you!

This recipe is one I adapted and added my own spin to (would you expect anything else?).

What you'll need:
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup quinoa
1 lb ground turkey (or chicken)
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 egg white

Honey-dill sauce:
1/3 cup Miracle Whip
1/4 cup liquid honey
1 tsp dried or fresh dill (fresh is better but I don't always have it)

*I would also feel free to get creative with the seasonings - you don't necessarily need to use thyme and basil, use anything you want!

1. Bring the water and quinoa to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave the covered saucepan on the burner for an additional 5 minutes. Remove the lid, fluff with a fork and set aside to cool. Preheat the oven to 400 F.

2. Combine the ground meat with the quinoa and salt in a medium bowl.

3. In one bowl, place the egg white and in a separate bowl combine the breadcrumbs, cheese, thyme and basil.

4. Lightly grease a large baking sheet or spray with cooking oil. Create even-sized nuggets by using a tablespoon and forming the meat mixture into flat ovals. Dip the nuggets in egg white and then coat in the breadcrumb mixture and place on the baking sheet.

5. Bake for 10 minutes on the centre oven rack. Remove from the oven, flip the nuggets over and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Combine the ingredients for the honey-dill sauce and mix well!

Mmmm...can't have chicken nuggets without this! (this includes fingers)

I served them with a little cherry tomato, olive & goat cheese salad!