September 23, 2016

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

I know this is news that you don’t want to hear, but yes folks, summer is almost over! WAAAAAAAAAAAA!

Only a couple more days until the next season begins, leaves turn from a green to a variety of vibrant fall colours and then drop to the ground. Why is it that my favourite season seems to fly by so quickly? WHY!!!

I’m truly a summer kinda gal and love using all the fresh provisions from our garden (which by the way, I have nothing to do with when it comes to planting, growing and tending).

This year we had a tenant take up space in the garden. A tiny bunny who I aptly named Alice. You may have followed Alice’s adventures on my snapchat and fell in love with her like I did. Steve didn’t care for her too much but I have caught him talking to her in this very high sweet voice on occasion. I wish you could have witnessed that, so heartwarming to hear him bond with Miss Alice Hippityhop.

Now listen. Although Alice looked innocent and cute, she completely had no shame and moved in the second she saw Steve planting the first seeds in the garden. His intent, as it is every year, was to grow a variety of beautiful tomatoes, summer squash, herbs and other vegetables.

It made no difference to Alice that we set up a high energy sprinkler system that works on a sensor. The second something passes by it shoots water out to supposedly deter the culprit from remaining in the garden area.

Well, guess what? Nine times out of ten, it was ME who got soaked by that stupid contraption, while Alice sat there snuggled amongst half eaten squash and tomatoes…… laughing. Ya that’s right. After all, this was her garden now.

So as we near the end of this beautiful season, the remnants of our crops were few and far between (BECAUSE OF ALICE). I gathered as much as I could before Alice had a chance to consume her three square meals a day.

I decided to make this late summer flatbread before it was too late. It’s a compilation of  berries, blue grapes, tomatoes, edamame, basil, corn all topped with combo of fresh ricotta and bocconcini cheese.

Total yum factor = 10+.

Welcome to the family Alice!

Late Summer Flatbread

-1 large flatbread
-¼ cup edamame pesto – recipe below
-½ cup sliced bocconcini cheese balls
-¼ cup fresh ricotta cheese
-¼ cup fresh grilled corn salad (mix corn with 1 tbls dried cranberries 1 tsp avocado oil & a sprinkle of salt & pepper)
-¼ cup each sliced yellow zucchini & baby eggplant, steamed
-¼ cup sliced peaches
-¼ cup fresh raspberries
-¼ cup seedless blue grapes
-¼ cup yellow cherry tomatoes
-fresh basil for garnish

1) Preheat oven to 400F.
2) Place one flatbread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
3) Spread with edamame pesto and top with all remaining ingredients.
4) Bake for 15 minutes or until nice and bubbly. Garnish with fresh basil and serve warm.

Edamame Pesto

-1 bag frozen edamame (about 3½ cups)
-1 cup chopped fresh basil
-1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
-1 small garlic clove, finely minced
-1/2 cup pine nuts, walnuts or almonds
-½ teaspoon salt
-¼ teaspoon pepper
-¼ cup avocado oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
-¼ cup water or vegetable broth

1) Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add edamame and cook until slightly tender (about 3 minutes).
2) Drain and let cool to room temperature.
3) In food processor, pulse together edamame, basil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, nuts, salt and pepper until roughly chopped. Drizzle in oil and ¼ cup water or vegetable broth; pulse until you get a thick paste.
4) Makes about 2 cups. Can be stored in fridge for up to a week.

xx, Debi
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September 16, 2016

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

I have to admit. I really love making and eating all kinds of different foods. Why am I saying this?

Well, it’s like this…..

I’m really not part of a “food culture or lifestyle”.

I’m not vegan.

I’m not vegetarian.

I’m not fruitarian.

I’m not paleo.

I’m not shellfish free.

I’m not grain free.

I’m not gluten free.

I’m not dairy free.

I’m not sugar free.

I’m not nut free (even though my family might disagree).

And I may be Jewish, but I’m far from being kosher.

I love crossing the threshold of world food trends and trying just about anything but hang on a sec.

That’s not to say I don’t eat healthy or at least try to. In fact, this past year I tried just about every single diet to alleviate symptoms I suffer from stemming from an autoimmune disease that’s been plaguing me for most of my life. Wanna know something? It did absolutely nothing for me. Ya, that’s right, a big fat ol’ zilch.

I like to eat.

Period.

Hey. I’m not gonna lie. There’s certain foods that I detest. One of which is a lima bean. Weird right?

When push comes to shove, I will eat almost anything that’s put in front of my face, with the exception of animals toes, privates or brains. What can I say? I like chopped liver on tam tam crackers. No one is perfect.

So why am I telling you this?

See these bars? They’re  100% vegan. Yep. Vegan as vegan can be.

So?

Why did I make em’???

Because they’re GOOD. Best. Reason. Ever.

VEGAN FRUIT & NUT BARS
-6 tablespoons coconut oil (I used JaxCoco)
-2 tablespoons raw peanut butter
-4 heaping tablespoons of raw cacao powder
-2 tablespoons agave (for non vegan use honey or maple syrup)
-pinch of kosher salt
-1 cup puffed quinoa cereal
-¼ cup dried cranberries
-¼ cup chopped pistachio nuts
-¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1) Melt together coconut oil, peanut butter, cacao powder, agave and salt in a microwavable bowl. (about 1 minute on high)
2) Stir in the quinoa cereal, cranberries, pistachios and shredded coconut.
3) Pour into a lined loaf pan and chill until set. (about 1 hour)
4) Lift bars from pan, slice and serve.
5) Can be stored in refrigerator for up to one week but they won’t last that long so don’t even bother reading this instruction.

See you next week!

debi @simplybeautifuleating
simplybeautifuleating.com

xx, Debi
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September 12, 2016

Office Snack Time

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It’s no secret…we love a good cocktail around here. After all we take on…it’s usually quite needed somewhere around 3 O’clock!

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But you also know…you can’t drink on an empty stomach! Some days I eat lunch…some days I don’t. EEK. BAD BAD GIRL! And it’s NOT ok. Putting “EAT LUNCH” on my New Years resolution list for this year!

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Our new favorite snack in the office is the fabulous popcorn by Live Love Pop! This summer they sent us a huge box filled with all the different (and very addicting) flavors that they have. We can’t get enough!

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We’ve been indulging in Splash Mixers lately. We are totally obsessed with their mojito blend that we mix up with a shot of rum. To make things extra pretty and flavorful I’ve been using herbs from my garden…

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What do you guys snack on? Tell us!  We’re always lookin’ to shake things up around here…

Cheers!

xx, Seri
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September 9, 2016

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

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I was really excited to have the opportunity to speak with Dana McCauley last week. Dana is a former Food Network judge, food trend expert and the creative force behind Food Trends TV on YouTube.

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The interview was part of the annual Lay’s Do Us a Flavour contest. This year, the contest featured internationally-inspired flavours, which gave Canadians the chance to vote for their favourite ones in store. The winners were: Canadian Bacon Poutine, Thai Sweet Chili and Cheese and Onion (from the UK), all of which reflect the latest food trends and Canadian palettes.

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I was lucky enough to “taste test” all three flavours at home and let me tell you something, each one is totally unique and really delish. My fave was the Thai Sweet Chili!! YUM.

Getting back to the interview, I asked Dana the following questions:

Me: What are the most important ingredients that every home cook or chef must have?

Dana: Butter, extra virgin olive oil, whole peppercorns, kosher salt, onions and garlic.

Just as a side note, I totally agree with her suggestions. I mean, what in the world would Jeffery do, If Ina Garten didn’t have butter at her fingertips? Come on people, you know as I well as I do that butter makes the world a better place right?

Dana also made a valid point of suggesting that processed ground pepper just doesn’t cut it. Freshly ground is the way to go. We also talked a bit about new oils to try as a change for EVOO. I recently received a whole box of goodies from a company called Chosen Foods. They sent me an array of avocado oils to try and I must say, it’s amazing to use in the majority of my recipes.

Okay, next questions:

Me: Do you often cook with or without a recipe or measured ingredients?

Dana: As a trained chef, I often cook without measured ingredients, it’s part of the creative process of recipe development. However, I always measure or weigh ingredients for baking.

Me: What are some of your favourite fall recipe ingredients?

Dana: Anything but pumpkin spice! (Dana felt that this combo has been overused and are typically the norm at this time of the year but boring). I like using sweet potatoes, cranberries and pears for fall inspired dishes.

Me: What do you think were the biggest food trends for 2016?

Dana: Not too much different from 2015. Regional Canadian fare is amongst the top trends plus a blend of multicultural foods such as Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese are always on board as favourites.

Me: What do you think the next big trend and flavour will be for the coming year?

Dana: Definitely leaning towards Korean inspired flavours and dishes.

Me: What social media foods/recipes are getting the most attention?

Dana: Hmmm….hard to pick just one specific food or recipe. I lean towards searching the top hashtags or keywords that would bring me to trending foods in the media.

Well, thank you Dana! She was truly a delight to chat with and I’m so fortunate to have been given the chance to get her take on what’s going to be on trend in the coming year.

Also, a big thanks to Lay’s for sending me those winning chips! I chose the Cheese and Onion flavour to top one of my favourite all time -best ever -out of this world casserole dishes. Those chips really took this recipe to the next level. I don’t think I will ever use plain flavoured ones again. It would be comparable to turning towards pumpkin spice.

By the way, I used to make this all the time for my boys while they were growing up. No wonder it took them so long to leave home!

Comfort food is always on trend around here. Enjoy!

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BEST EVER CHICKEN, PENNE & SPINACH BAKE

1 box penne pasta (14.5 oz)
1 box or bag frozen spinach (10 oz) (you can substitute fresh as well)
1 bbq chicken, cut into bite size chunks (store bought or homemade)
1 tetra box (10.75 oz) organic cream of mushroom soup
1 cup milk
2 cups of rose sauce ((recipe)
1 cup shredded cheese (any combo will do, I used white & yellow cheddar)
½ bag of potato chips, roughly crushed (I used Lay’s Cheese & Onion)
¼ cup of butter cut into small pieces.

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In a large saucepan, boil water for pasta. Cook pasta together with spinach until pasta is done. Drain, and set aside.
Mix remaining ingredients in a large bowl (except for the potato chips & butter, this is your topping)
Place pasta and spinach in the bowl with the blended ingredients and stir.
Place in a well greased casserole dish (I like to spray mine with avocado oil) and top with chips and dot with butter.
I used a large oval ceramic dish but a 9 x13 dish is fine.
Bake at 350F for 40 minutes, or until casserole is beautifully bubbly and brown.
Serve warm.

See you next week!

@simplybeautifuleating
SimplyBeautifulEating.com

xx, Debi
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September 2, 2016

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

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For those of you who used to follow my personal blog Narsbar Confessions of Every Day Life, you may recall a post about how much Chinese cuisine I consumed as a child. Yep, my parents used to take us to Lichee Gardens every single Sunday and order a boat load of food from egg rolls to almond cookies and everything in between. And, we usually had the same waiter – Mr. Wilson Lee.

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This guy was a genius. He would go into the kitchen and bring us “extra special” treats because my father tipped him well. Oh, and the portions of food were always larger than the table next to us because Mr. Wilson Lee was our very own “gangsta waiter”.

Sadly, Lichee Gardens AND Mr. Wilson Lee are GONE FOREVER along with the most delicious egg rolls on the planet. I’m not kidding you. THEY WERE THE BEST. No really. They were.

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Delicious crunchy vegetables and other unknown substances all encased in the most mouthwatering soft egg roll outer shell.

If I had to choose one dish as my favourite ……it was that egg roll. I could live on them and inside of them. That’s how I would want to ROLL.

Okay, so this post has absolutely nothing to do with egg rolls (although I have to admit, I’ve tried duplicating those in my lifetime BUT there’s none that remotely come close to Lichee’s signature ones). If the chef was still alive I would consider hiring him just to do a private egg roll party for me.

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Over the years, I’ve made various oriental inspired meals. I have had some that were great and others that my family have gently suggested that sticking with take-out food would have been a safer bet.

Now that Steve and I cook for each other, there are less food critics to impress so a few nights ago I mixed up this “whatever I had in the fridge” sauce and went to town with this shrimp. If I do say so myself, I LOVED IT and I know you will too.

Mr. Wilson Lee would have been proud of my accomplishment, and in memory of him and those bomb diggity Lichee egg rolls, I made a very large portion for a table of two.

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HOISIN HONEY ORANGE SPICED SHRIMP

-1 package (16-20) black tiger shrimp, shelled, deveined, washed and dried well.
seasoned with:
-Cayenne pepper
-Garlic salt
-Pepper
-Spiced sesame oil
-Avocado oil

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Sauce for shrimp
-½ cup hoisin sauce
-1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
-2 teaspoons light soy sauce
-1 tablespoon manuka honey
-Zest from one orange
-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

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Garnish:
-Sesame seeds
-Green onion
-Coconut basmati rice ( see recipe below)

1) Season shrimp and set aside.
2) Mix all ingredients for sauce set aside.
3) Heat 1 tablespoon of avocado oil in a non stick pan or wok.
4) Stir fry shrimp in oil until no longer pink. I did it in two batches to avoid crowding. Remove first batch from pan and side aside while you stir fry the second batch.
5) Place all the cooked shrimp back in fry pan. Add sauce and cook 2 mins more, or until nicely glazed. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, top with green onion.
6) Serve with rice.

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COCONUT SCENTED BASMATI RICE

-1¼ cups of basmati rice
-2 (10 oz) cans of coconut milk
-pinch of kosher salt

1) In a medium size saucepan, combine rice, coconut milk and salt.
2) Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Make sure all the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Serve warm.

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See ya next week!

debi @simplybeautifuleating
simplybeautifuleating.com

xx, Debi
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