Made at Home: Strawberry, Basil & Lemon Pastries

Last night, I picked up some puff pastry sheets at the grocery store before I came home. I used some of our leftover pumpkin & ricotta filling from our pumpkin ravioli to make a few pumpkin puffs and mixed up some fresh spinach, ricotta, and goat cheese to make pseudo spanikapita. While Mike and I both enjoyed the pastries I think we were both left craving something a little sweeter. Since I still had one sheet of puff pastry left, I decided to make a sweeter pastry tonight. I mixed a few spoons of strawberry compote with some chopped fresh basil, lemon zest, and a few squirts of lemon. I spooned the filling into some different shapes of pastry dough – stars, squares, circles, and triangles, baked at 375 for about 20 minutes, and dusted with powdered sugar. The result? A delicious, crispy pastry that satisfies both mine and Mike’s sweet tooth (at least for tonight)!

katie

Made at Home: Pumpkin Ravioli

Hands down, my favourite type of pasta is pumpkin ravioli. It’s sweet, creamy, and savoury all at the same time. Since we still had some pumpkin puree lying around in the fridge (that stuff goes far!) we decided to try our hand at making some. We don’t own a pasta maker so we had to do it the old fashioned way – with just a rolling pin, pasta cutter, and a whole lot of patience.

We used this recipe, for the filling and the dough. Although, I’d probably quarter the filling recipe next time (we had way more filing than we could ever need). We also only used 2 out of the 3 pasta dough balls (2 balls made about 4-5 large servings).To go with the pasta, we made a brown butter sauce like the one mentioned in the recipe, using a 1/4 cup butter, 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary (chopped) and about a 1/2 tbsp of dried thyme. We coated the pasta with the sauce and divvied it up into 4 generous servings (best leftovers ever).

Making homemade pasta is not difficult, but it takes a bit of time. We made this recipe after a long day of work/school (we were really in the mood for a carb party as you can probably see) so the quality slipped a bit. If we were to make it again, I think we would do it on a weekend afternoon, when we could take the time to make the dough really thin and the shapes more uniform. I’d also like to experiment with different fillings – mushroom, sausage, ricotta, spinach – there are so many delicious options!

image

Made at Home: Pumpkin Waffles & Lattes

Mike and I have been spending a lot of time doing two things lately: watching copious amounts of Parks and Recreation and enjoying the fall season. Tonight we combined both to create possibly the best dinner ever: pumpkin waffles and pumpkin spice lattes. For those of you who don’t watch Parks and Rec, lead character Leslie Knope LOVES waffles and all things sugar. We just so happen to love all things pumpkin, and together these loves resulted in one tasty meal. The recipes we used for our pumpkin-infused treats can be found here and here (you can combine the PSL syrup recipe with our DIY from last week to make the latte). So get on out to the store and pick up some pumpkin puree, you’ll definitely want to try both of these before the winter hits!

image

Made at Home: Milk Foam

Like many people, I have a weakness for fancy coffee shop drinks. Americanos, cappuccinos, “Candianas,” lattés – I love them all. The only problem is that buying these caffeined babies as often as I do can get pretty pricey. Because I don’t own an espresso machine and don’t really care to take the time to boil and steam milk on the stove, I’ve found it hard to recreate any of my favourite drinks at home – until now.

The other day I came across this article on how to make milk foam without a frother or machine and was seriously excited. I love Starbucks’ Cafe Misto (their version of a café au lait) and this recipe meant I could whip one up in a flash. Ever since I found the recipe I’ve been using it to make my own everyday. However, through trial and error (and some helpful reader comments) I think I’ve found a way to improve on the original. Here’s what I do to make my DIY Starbucks Café Misto:

For 1 serving:
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup strong coffee (I just double the amount of grinds I use when I’m making coffee)
Sugar/Flavoured Syrup (optional)

Pour 1/2 cup milk into a mason jar, attach lid, and shake for half a minute. Remove lid and microwave for 40 seconds. Take from the microwave and use an immersion blender to blend until foamy (make sure to keep the blender at the bottom of the cup!). Put back in the microwave for another 20 seconds. Pour milk into coffee, using a spoon to hold back the foam, then scoop out the foam and place on top of coffee mixture. Sweeten with sugar or flavoured syrup to taste.

**For those of you who don’t have an immersion blender at home you can just follow the original method in the link above, but your milk won’t be as foamy.**

There you have it! How to make a somewhat fancy coffee shop drink in your own home without any expensive appliances. Drink up!

katie

Made at Home: Low Cal Crepes

Katie and I have been on a bit of a health kick lately. We’ve been going to the gym a few times a week and watching what we eat. If past diets have taught us anything, however, it’s that trying to just eat less doesn’t work for us. We attribute our current (and hopefully continuing) success to eating smart – filling up on low-calorie fruits and vegetables, effectively using our proteins, and learning the most effective times to indulge.

When the two of us developed a craving for a gourmet breakfast recently we put our new plan to the test. We took a light version of a restaurant favourite (crepes), slathered them in some filling Greek yogurt (much better than a thick cream), and loaded them with fruit. You can find the original recipe here, although we used much more batter per crepe (a little under a 1/2 cup for each) and let ours get a little more brown before serving. We topped each crepe with 1/4 cup strawberries, 1/4 cup bananas, and a little under a 1/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt topped up with a bit of raw honey.

image

Blueberry Picking

I’ve been back in Halifax for about a week now but I’m still going through 1) the photos I took while home and 2) the jar of blueberries I brought back with me. Around this time of year my family and I like to pick a few tubs of berries both as an outing and for the delicious muffins and puddings we make with them. These are the blueberry waffles I made after getting back to the city.

image

Made at Home: Tilapia Tostadas

Last summer Mike and I tried to make fish tacos foolishly thinking that we could just swap fish for beef. Needless to say, it was a culinary disaster. Putting last summer’s gastronomical failure behind us, we decided to try again on Saturday night. This time however, we were more prepared. We found two really good fish taco recipes (check them out here and here) and put our own spin on them.

Here’s how we made our “Tilapia Tostadas”

For the fish:
Dip your fish in flour, then an egg wash, and then back in flour. We used one egg for our two fillets. Instead of deep frying we used a bit of butter to pan-fry our fish.

For the topping:
Shred some red cabbage (as much as you like – we used 1/2 of a small head) and chop a clove or two of garlic and place in a large bowl. Coat well with sauce (see below). Place cabbage mixture on tostadas. Top with cooked tilapia, chopped tomatoes, sliced avacadoes, shredded cheddar, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice.

For the sauce:
2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp plain greek yogurt
1 tsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
Salt/pepper to taste
Combine in a small bowl and stir. **This recipe might make a little more sauce then you need, but you can use the leftovers to make coleslaw the next day!**

We both really loved how our tilapia tostadas worked out and will definitely be making them again. With this recipe I think it’s safe to say we’ve redeemed ourselves from last summer’s fish-tastrophe.

image

Made at Home: Black Bean Ginger Sauce

It’s important to eat your veggies, but it’s not always easy. If not properly prepared they can be bland, boring, and just plain gross. The easiest solution to the veggie blahs? Sauce, sauce, sauce! A delicious sauce can transform almost any sad-looking vegetable into the star of the plate. Don’t believe me? Just dip a carrot into some hummus, or throw a hunk of cauliflower into some curry.

The only downside to sauce is that it can sometimes be loaded with fat and calories. Pre-made, bottled sauces can be tough on the waistline, so I like to make my own whenever possible. Here’s a super easy stir fry sauce I whipped up this week. It’s really simple, full of flavour, and low on fat.

You’ll need:
1/2 cup black beans (rinsed and drained)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup soy sauce
4 tsp brown sugar
4 tsp corn starch
Fresh chopped ginger – as much as you like
1 clove garlic (optional)

Combine all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a strainer to remove black bean skins. Heat in a saucepan until boiling and thickened. Remove from heat, add to a stir fry or bottle and use later…told you it was easy!

katie

Made at Home: Basil Lemonade

On a day that the Weather Network predicts will feel like 40 degrees, we thought this morning was the perfect chance to make some refreshments to get us through the heat. Luckily for us, Katie had this recipe on hand and we had four lemons and a handful of basil in the fridge. Success! This lemonade is very easy to make, super tasty, and probably won’t make it through the morning. It’s perfect for a summer barbecue or lemonade stand (believe us, we thought about it). Drop us a line and let us know how you survive this summer heat!

Made at Home: The Dirty Thirties

image

Once in a while I like to mix things up a bit by throwing a themed dinner for myself and Mike. In the past I’ve held things like an indoor picnic and a “Freaks and Geeks” party complete with “Freak” and “Geek” style dishes.

I can’t exactly put my finger on what inspired this weekend’s themed dinner – maybe it’s the books I’ve been reading, the paper I recently wrote, or just being a poor student in general – but once I got the idea in my head I had to make it happen. What was the theme I was so obsessed with this time? It was… *drumroll please* the 1930s! Ok, ok, I know it sounds a bit bizarre to be craving food straight out of the Great Depression, but for some strange reason I was.

By the time Mike came home our kitchen had been turned into a 1930s style lunch counter. Being the good natured and adventurous guy he is, he bravely ordered the daily special: “The New Deal.” It included a sandwich wrapped up with parchment and string, tomato soup, slow cooked beans, coffee and pie for only $1.

While I can’t vouch for the historical accuracy of this particular meal, it definitely satisfied my craving. I had a lot of fun preparing the menu, and an even better time eating it all. I highly recommend holding one for yourself – don’t forget to turn up hits like this to help you get in the mood.

katie