Monday musings, and meatloaf.

We are raised to believe that Mondays aren’t to be trusted.  Monday, Monday.  Can’t trust that day.  Back to work, back to school, the fun of the weekend is over….it’s just another Manic Monday after all.  But what happens  if you want to play a different tune?

Hmmm…. my positive Monday song lyric search is coming up a blank.

When I awoke, several hours before my alarm, that was all I could think of.  I’m self employed and even I was dreading Monday morning.  (Rainy days and Mondays…) I make my own schedule and still – Yikes!   Tell me why I don’t like Mondays…

So, I did what any normal adult would do (well, normal to me).  I read a cookbbook.  I made a great list of Meatless Monday ideas and then thought “now what”.  Meatloaf.

Okay.  SO not meatless….

Now I’m not a vegetarian and I don’t pretend to be.  But for many reasons I am trying to eat less meat.   Sometimes though comfort food is the way to go.  This week it was meatloaf. Meatloaf it a very personal thing with endless possible variations.   This is my go to version. Tasty and easy it also has a few hidden ingredients to up the “healthy” quotient a bit (which also makes it a great way to sneak in some vegetables at the dinner table).

Now if only Meatloaf had written a song about Mondays.

Ingredients

  • 1lb lean ground beef
  • 1lb lean ground turkey breast
  • 2 whole eggs or 4 egg whites
  • 1c. panko
  • 1 c. shredded brussel sprouts or 1 c finely chopped kale
  • 1 bunch italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion or 4-6 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1-2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 c milk
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
Method
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Mix all ingredients, except ketchup and maple syrup, in a large bowl.
  • Place mixture in a loaf pan.  Cover with tin foil and bake for 45 minutes.
  • While cooking mix the tomato paste and syrup in a small bowl.
  • When meatloaf has been cooking for 45 minutes, remove tin foil, spread the tomato and syrup on the top.  Bake another 5-10 minutes until sauce has crisped.
Serve with roasted vegetables and a fresh green salad.

Chicken Soup and CPR.

As a personal trainer every year I have to redo my CPR.  When I showed up for the class a few weeks ago my instructor said “I was sick last week and my husband made me your chicken soup recipe – thanks for that”.   As we sat there doing chest compressions all I could think of was “what chicken soup recipe”.  Then, a couple of weeks later I got an email from a client asking if I could please send her my recipe for turkey soup.  Hmmm. Taking it as a sign I went through some of my old newsletters to see what they were referring to.  Ah ha!  This soup has been floating around my kitchen for so long I don’t even think of it as a recipe anymore.  Originally from the cookbook The Best of Cooking Light (2000), it is super easy, healthy and satisfying.  Exactly what you want in a chicken soup.  Now you will probably get around to making soup before you take CPR.  Personally I strongly suggest doing both.  However unlike this recipe, I hope the CPR never comes in handy. Continue reading

Fall splendour.

The past several days haven’t been much about cooking.  I’ve been having too much fun enjoying the fall weather out in my garden.  As I watched literally hundreds of people wander my street to enjoy the beautiful fall leaves I was reminded that feeding oneself is as much about the spirit as the stomach.  The rains will be here soon enough beckoning me back to the kitchen, but in the meantime these are some of the things feeding my soul.

Fall leaves outside my window…

Discovering cartoon cute (but posionous!) mushrooms in my yard…

Chatting with Gibson while he observes the day…

Being surprised at a brand new flower blooming in the garden….

And of course a teeny bit of food…. freshly roasted pumpkin seeds for snacks.

Feeding oneself happens many ways.  What are some of yours?

Cook (those) books.

I love books.  Especially cook books (and cooking magazines, and cooking websites… ).  I can read a cookbook at any time of the day.  Cooking from them though, well, that’s another story.

I have a lot of cookbooks.  I read through them all the time, I use post it notes to mark recipes I want to cook and I make list after list of what I’d like to try.  But, when it comes time to cook dinner it never fails I open the fridge scan around, grab a few random things, close my eyes and start cooking.  When it works it seems impressive “you can make anything at the drop of a hat”, when it doesn’t… well let’s leave those comments out of this.

I come by it honestly. Even my mom collects cookbooks.

Continue reading

Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Fall Soup.

Fall officially showed up for the party in the past week.  Cooler days, crisper air, cozy sweaters, and heartier comfort food.   Like soup.

I like soup.  A lot.  Especially soups I can drink from a mug while reading a good book. Soups don’t get much love over the summer months, but they sure get a lot of it once it gets cold.  Even still, I don’t make soup very often.  I’m not really sure why.  Maybe because it always feels just a bit too labour intensive.  To be fair though, it is probably less work than many other meals that I make.  This soup is one of the easiest. Continue reading

Being thankful.

This past weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving.  I’m still a little freaked by how early it was this year, but I think I’m kind of glad.  With the days getting shorter, the garden slowly going to sleep for the season and the Vancouver rains beginning I was starting to get a little cranky.  Cranky isn’t a good thing.  For me, cranky turns into eating too many wasted carbs, bad sleeps, a lack of any sort of activity and a proclivity to trashy “chick novels”. Not exactly the healthiest, most productive way to go about things.

Thanksgiving this year came at the perfect time.  It was about so much more than overeating and slipping into a turkey coma.  It was about life, about laughing,

about a wedding between two beautiful people….

… a surprise fun breakfast made for me

…. harvesting sprouts from the garden

… creating a new variation on pumpkin soup (recipe coming soon!)

… celebrating dinner with friends and family (and trying a new brussel sprout recipe with aforementioned sprouts!)

what the plate of a 19 yr old boy who lives on his own looks like!

…. a quiet nights dinner with some homemade pasta.

All simple things.

All a reminder of how lucky I am.  Thank you.

Brussel Sprouts, welcome back.

Thanksgiving is ridiculously early this year here in Canada.  While I haven’t had much time to sit and research new recipes I’m not worried.  Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t need to be fancy.  Just friends, a big ol’ bird and some simple home cooking.

If your family is anything like mine they have their holiday dinner traditions (even if sometimes you can’t help but wonder why since no one really seems to like them!).  When I was younger, turnip, parsnips and brussel sprouts always seemed to show up uninvited.

Sprouts tend to have a (pretty legitimate) bad rep.  Often served boiled beyond all recognition (with a horrible smell!) it’s no wonder many people don’t like them.  As a member of the brassicas family (like kale, cabbage and cauliflower) brussel sprouts are high in vitamins K & C, folic acid and loaded in dietary fibre.  Cooked properly they are a great little addition to your diet and your table.

With age, thankfully, comes wisdom.  Brussel sprouts are now a welcome fixture on my menu.  This year for the first time I actually grew them in the garden (word to the wise – they take up a lot of real estate!) and they should be ready just in time for Thanksgiving.

If you are willing to give sprouts a second chance try this simple recipe for pan seared sprouts and pancetta.  You just might welcome them back to your family table.

Ingredients

  • 1lb of brussel sprouts
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1-2 tbsp canola oil
  • 5-10 slices of pancetta
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

Method

  • Wash the sprouts and peel off any loose leaves. Place sprouts in top part of steamer and steam until just cooked (approx 10mins).
  • When done rinse with cold water and immediately squeeze lemon juice over top. (Note, all the steps up to this point can be done up to a day ahead to free up stove space and save time.)
  • Before proceeding cut each sprout into either halves or quarters.
  • Very lightly coat bottom of large saute pan with oil.  Cut pancetta into strips.  Slowly cook pancetta until soft, but not overly crispy.
  • When the pancetta is done, remove and place on paper towel to drain.  Pour off any excess grease at bottom of pan.
  • Add garlic to pan. When slightly soft add the sprouts, remaining oil and pepper to taste. Heat through. Re-add pancetta.
  • Toss and serve.

In the interest of full disclosure I still don’t get turnip or parsnips…

(Not fried) Green Tomatoes

It was a short summer season here in Vancouver and while I had a bumper crop of tomatoes (yeah!) there is one small problem, many of them are (still) green.  Very green.

Several pints of green tomato salsa, relish and chutney later I decided I needed to make something that was edible now.  The answer was obvious (not fried) green tomatoes and onion.  Easy beyond belief and a great addition to your dinner table. Continue reading