June 9, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

Guess what?

I HAVE OVENS!

Not one but two. Yep. That’s what I wanted in the new kitchen, because God only knows what the future will bring. I figured that it was a practical move since entertaining for a crowd will be inevitable. My mom always loved  her double ovens. When she hosted  large family gatherings twice a year, there was always enough room to place extra dishes in both to keep all the food nice and toasty.

Last night I made my first pizza in the lower oven. Why the lower one? It’s much easier to reach into. Despite the fact that there is still no running water on the main floor, I am absolutely thrilled to be able to bake, broil and roast again.

As an added bonus, Steve has planted all our fresh herbs in the garden and you know what that means? I’m out there snipping and clipping. Now, I’m not a big chive lover but to be honest, they were unbelievably good on this pizza. Along with the fresh herbs, I used sliced zucchini and farmers cottage cheese for my toppings. This was one fancy dancy pizza, don’t ya think?

Oh, and I also have counter space to work on now. OODLES of counter space, which I’m going to tell you about.

I’m in the midst of writing a detailed renovation blog, but I wanted to share this one piece of information with you today. If you have been following along in this adventure, you will remember that I have ISSUES in making up my mind. It’s not that I’m indecisive. Well, maybe a little. Okay, maybe A LOT.

I just want things to be RIGHT. I figured that I have to be in love with the choices I make for this kitchen, otherwise I will be waiting for the opportunity to change things in the future. Deciding on a counter top was one of the toughest decisions for me to make.

You see, being a food blogger means that you are going to beat the crap out of your work space. It means drips, spills, scratches and work space abominable messes. What does all that mean? It points towards choosing a durable surface that can withstand ME.

I searched and searched through every possible man made quartz counter top sample and finally decided on one.

THEN.

I changed my mind. (insert Steve’s eye roll thingie here) Let me tell you what happened.

I walked into a showroom to choose my quartz slab and the salesperson said “don’t look to the right”. When I asked her what she meant by “don’t look to the right”, she informed me that all the marble slabs were to the right and all the quartz slabs were to the LEFT.

So naturally I went to the right.

That was my first mistake, because I fell hopelessly IN LOVE. All the slabs I saw were exactly what I have dreamt of having in my kitchen. There wasn’t one person who didn’t try to talk me out of getting marble. I was basically told “it would be the worst decision ever”.

So what did I do?

I chose marble.

Am I insane for doing so? Probably. Is it beautiful? YES. Is it perfect? No. With every natural stone there are flaws, but I guarantee that there will be more once I start my usual kitchen antics.

I was super careful last night with this pizza. I used every trivet I had in the house to make sure that the pan didn’t come in contact with the counter. Worth it? Uh huh.

Making my own pizza dough is something that I love to do, but for a quick version and since I’m still running up and down the stairs for water, I used a store bought whole grain shell for this pizza. Easy peasy.

The whole shebang took me less than ten minutes to throw together and look how pretty it is!

I’m starting to see a light at the end of the kitchen tunnel. For instance, I have a couch now which has nothing to do with the kitchen, but it’s somewhere that we can sit now. Or should I say, the cat can sit. She was ecstatic that we gave her back some furniture to park her butt on. Why is it that she thinks she owns everything? Most likely because she DOES.

ZUCCHINI & FARMERS CHEESE PIZZA WITH FRESH CHIVES

– 1 store bought pizza shell
– flavored olive oil, I used garlic& herb
– 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
– ½ cup fresh baby spinach leaves
– 1 teaspoon dried oregano
– 2 zucchinis, thinly sliced, steamed and blanched
– 6 tablespoons farmers cottage cheese or goat cheese
– kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
– fresh basil leaves, for garnish
– 2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives for garnish

1) Preheat oven to 450F. Grease a 14-inch round pizza pan. Place your pizza shell on the pan and brush with flavoured oil.
2) Evenly sprinkle the shredded mozzarella over the crust. Top with spinach leaves. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and sprinkle the dried oregano evenly over the top.
3) Bake in the lower third of the oven until the crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbly and browning on top, 8 -10 minutes. Meanwhile, steam zucchini slices for 3 minutes in the microwave with 2 tablespoons of cold water. Drain and blanch in ice cold water.
4) Remove pizza from oven and top with zucchini, dollop farmers cottage cheese over it and sprinkle with chives. Place back into the oven for two to three minutes just to warm through. Slice and serve immediately.

See you next week!

debi @simplybeautifuleating

xx, Debi
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May 19, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

Now I know I’ve completely lost my mind and I’m sure you wanna know why.

I’ve been searching through archived photos of my food photography for the past few months, just came across these and guess what? I don’t even remember when I shot them. It was somewhere between 2014 and 2017. That’s all I know. The other thing I’m pretty certain about is this…..

These muffins were the bomb.

To narrow down the timeline, it’s clear that these were made during blueberry season (well duh, there’s a load of them in the recipe ,so this wasn’t something that I needed the FBI to figure out).

Anyhoo, you know how I feel about blueberries. They are plump jewels of happiness that make everything taste better. Especially when they burst out of a muffin and into your mouth.

Wait.

How about these roses? My husband is always a sucker for good foliage. He makes his way down to the flower markets whenever there is an occasion, like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, my birthday or a just-because-I-love-you-day.

Let me tell you what he did for Mother’s Day.

Of course, he surprised me with a beautiful bouquet of roses, similar to the ones in these photos.

Then, he gave me a really cute card with an enclosed paper (hand made) puzzle. Yes, he made the puzzle out of letters that were my “clues” to my gift.

I had 10 minutes to piece together these letters, otherwise Steve informed me that the gift was NULL and VOID.

No pressure, right?

OMG, I suck at puzzles. I could never win Survivor. Plus I’m really bad in math, which has nothing to do with puzzles, but I just thought I would let you know that useless piece of information.

Oh, and we were in the car on our way to brunch when I opened my card. Steve set his iPhone timer for 10 minutes and yelled “GO!!!”

I was fiddling around with the stupid paper pieces for exactly 7 minutes, when he realized that he may have spelled the word wrong. Not surprising, since his spelling is comparable to my math skills. It’s a good thing we can assist each other with daily simple tasks because, really?

So now we are stopped at a red light, he grabs one of the squares of paper and scribbles over the letter making the correction.

I have 3 minutes left and I’m starting to shvitz (sweat).

I figured it out with a minute to spare and guessed it!

You won’t believe this one. He still spelled it wrong.

These where my letters:

L

O

S

V

E

G

A

S

How do you really spell it? Las Vegas.

Do I gamble? No. I hate losing money.

Do I need to go to Las Vegas now, with two weddings coming up this summer? No.

Can I try spelling something else with those letters and still get a gift? All I could figure out was LOVES GAS so maybe a gift certificate to ESSO might be another option. Okay Steve?

Here’s the moral of the story. No matter how you spell it, these Blueberry Oat Chia muffins are a sure bet.

BLUEBERRY OAT CHIA MUFFINS

– 2 extra large eggs
– ½ cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
– 2 medium size, ripe bananas, mashed
– ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 tsp baking soda
– ½ tsp ground cinnamon
– ¼ cup cup chia seeds
– ¾ cup quick oats
– 1 cup + 2 tbsp white whole wheat flour (or a mix of all purpose and whole wheat is fine too)
– 1½ cups cups fresh blueberries

1) Preheat your oven to 350F and prepare a 12 cup muffin pan by spraying with non stick cooking spray or lining them with paper liners. Set aside.
2) In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Whisk in the Greek yogurt, bananas,sugar, vanilla, baking soda, cinnamon, chia seeds and oats mixing until smooth.
3) Add in the flour and gently stir it in until just combined. DO NOT OVER MIX.
4) Toss the blueberries in 1 tablespoon of flour to prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the muffins, then fold them into the batter.
5) Divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups, using an ice cream scoop. Fill them almost to the top. Sprinkle with additional oats if desired.
6) Bake for 20 -­ 22 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins begin to turn golden and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
7) Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. These will keep well in an airtight container for up to 5 days or they freeze well for up to 3 months.

See you next week!

debi @simplybeautifuleating

xx, Debi
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May 12, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

Well, guess what?

I still don’t have a kitchen.

So what if it’s been almost 4 months? So what if I haven’t picked up my camera? So what if I forgot how to think, write or edit? So what if there are swatches of paint, slabs of stone, and visions of couches dancing through my head. SO WHAT!!

I apologize if I sound cranky today. That’s because I AM. Forgive me.

DEEEEEEEEEEEP BREATH.

Okay, so there is a space where the kitchen is going to be but I don’t have any cupboards, sink or a place where I can actually COOK and BAKE. What this means is this, I have to come up with ways to prepare meals that are effortless and don’t require a stove or oven.

You wanna know something? I think I can relate to the pioneers. They leaned towards making dishes using their survival skills and cooking over wood fire burning stoves. Tempted to do so in my living room because, frankly, it’s been too cold outside to cook on the barbecue.

It’s May for Godsakes. Come on.

Even though it’s been months of prepping food in my bathroom, I haven’t succumbed to grabbing a rifle and hunting squirrel (but I’ve been tempted to).

I’ve rarely read that pioneers included kale in their recipes, most likely because KALE is the new possum in present day culinary terms. Pioneers were basically good at foraging through the forest gathering herbs, roots and berries. The rest of  their food came from their fields, gardens and farmyards.

Last weekend, I looked outside my window and saw mushrooms growing out of the grass. They looked scrumptious, and the thought of stir frying those in a skillet on my hotplate swirled through my head. Before I attempted to forage, sauté and most likely die from mushroom poisoning, I decided to leave them for the dang “raccoon pioneers” who seem to be destroying my lawn lately. Besides, I need to be around to see the new kitchen if it ever happens.

Since the start of this renovation, I have considered Steve and I to be very imaginative with our meals. Not exactly pioneers, but close enough.

For instance, we had our new staircase installed last week. When I came home from work, the installer told he required us to stay upstairs for at least 2 hours so that the varnish had a chance to dry. That meant that the three of us were sequestered to the upper level (I’m including Tiffany the kitty in this head count, because in my opinion, she is human).

So?

What do you do when you have time on your hands, hungry for dinner and trapped upstairs?

Chop chop.

Not only did I end up with a beautiful salad here, I also added another recipe to my ever growing list of things I can make without major appliances.

One more thing before I go (which is useless information), but important to know about my past. When I was 16, I was hired part-time in a store downtown, situated in a very large shopping mall. If you are from Toronto, I’m talking about the Eaton Centre. The store sold dresses that were very reminiscent of the ones that pioneer women used to wear. When I went for the first interview, I was told that all sales staff were required to purchase and wear these dresses during work hours (in order to give the customers a visual on how pretty these garments were) or how idiotic we looked in them – clearly there was a market for these fugly frocks.

On day ONE I quit.

Reason why?

Do I look like the pioneer type to you?

RAINBOW CRUNCH SUPER SALAD WITH TANGERINE DRESSING

– 1 bunch kale, thick stems removed and leaves torn into bite-size pieces
– 4 cups shredded red cabbage
– 6 tangerines, peel, segment and dice 3 and juice the remaining 3 for the dressing
– 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
– 2 medium bell peppers, cored, seeded and diced (I used orange and yellow)
– 2 medium carrots, julienned
– 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained
– ⅓ cup sunflower seeds
– ⅓ cup pepitas
– ⅓ cup sliced skinless almonds
– ⅓ cup fresh blueberries
– 1 avocado, sliced
– ⅓ cup crumble feta cheese, optional for garnish

1) Place the kale, cabbage, tangerines, onion, bell peppers and carrots in a large salad bowl. Mix well with salad tongs. Top with the chickpeas, sunflower seeds, pepitas, almonds, blueberries and slice avocado. Sprinkle with feta, if desired.
2) Make your dressing (see recipe below).
3) Pour the dressing over the salad. Mix with tongs until well combined. Serve.
4) Good news is, you can keep this refrigerated, covered, for 2-3 days.

TANGERINE DRESSING

– ¼ cup freshly squeezed tangerine juice
– ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
– ¼ cup olive oil
– 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
– 2 tablespoons honey, maple syrup or agave
– ½ teaspoon kosher salt
– ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1) Make the dressing. In a small bowl, combine the tangerine juice, vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, honey salt, and pepper. Mix with a whisk until well combined or you can whip this up in a blender.

See you next week!

debi @simplybeautifuleating

xx, Debi
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April 28, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend With Simply Beautiful Eating

As we go into week 8 of our kitchen renovation, I am experiencing deep baking withdrawal. Although I have to admit, being ovenless has been an acceptable excuse for not cooking and baking.

I thought it would be relaxing and a well deserved break, but to be honest, it’s been hard…..like really hard.

So instead of banging out creations week after week, I’ve succumbed to pouring over pictures of wall colours, countertops, taps, lighting and other various kitchen paraphernalia that has landed me into more trouble than you want to know about with my husband (and the contractor).

Just when they thought it was safe ……….I come up with another “brilliant” idea”.

What was it this week?

A pot filler.

Yes.

A pot filler. You’ve seen them. They are stuck on the wall over the cooktop and conveniently dispense hot and cold water directly into your pot on the stove. GENIUS.

When we first started to design our kitchen, the contractor asked me if I wanted one. Then, two of my friends who are interior designers said, “you’re getting a pot filler, right?” Of course I said YES and my husband said NO.

Steve’s justification for his answer was as follows:

“What do you need it for? Can’t you just walk over to the sink and fill the pot? We only have pasta once a month, so it’s a big waste of money.”

Not to mention he would have to do extra plumbing work for this little kitchen thingy.

To which I answered, “BUT IT’S SO PRETTY!”

Then I stopped to think about the fact that I do have two sinks in the kitchen – one on the island and a main one just a few steps from the cooktop. So I eliminated the pot filler option from my mind UNTIL……..last night.

I’m going to blame Pinterest again, because if you key word search “Beautiful Kitchens”, the majority have these damn pot fillers sticking out of the wall.

As you know, Steve needed to change all the lighting in the house. Since he was already in a lousy mood from that task even though he admits he was W.R.O.N.G. , I figured it was an opportune time to ask for another item we clearly DO NOT NEED for the kitchen. Guess what?

HE SAID FINE JUST DO IT.

He said what?

I had to confirm his answer again, because I thought I heard him say something like “YOU WILL BE FINE WITHOUT IT.” But no, in his current state of exasperation, he said YES!

This brings me to today, and as I write this blog I’m thinking about how to rationalize having that thing on the wall. For instance, this recipe has nothing to do with a pot filler except for the fact that it is also really pretty. Oh and it’s easy. Oh oh…….and it’s a great side dish for pasta which means only one thing……….

I need the pot filler. Right Steve?

Black Sesame & Herb Double Cheese Twists

– 2 sheets frozen puff pastry
– 1 extra large egg
– 1 tablespoon water
– ½ cup shredded jalapeno jack cheese
– ½ cup shredded OKA cheese or Jarlsberg
– 1 teaspoon minced fresh herbs, I used thyme & parsley
– ½ teaspoon kosher salt
– 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
– Freshly ground black pepper

1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2) Roll out each sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured board until it is approximately 10 X 12-inches. Beat the egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush the surface of the pastry. Sprinkle each sheet evenly with both cheeses, fresh herbs, salt, pepper and the sesame seeds. With the rolling pin or your hands, lightly press the flavourings into the puff pastry. Cut each sheet crosswise with a floured knife or pizza wheel into 11 or 12 strips. Twist each strip and lay on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Brush with additional egg wash.
3) Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned and puffed. Turn each straw and bake for another 2 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

See you next week!

debi @simplybeautifuleating

xx, Debi
Party conversation
  1. Abby

    This is so simple yet looks very fancy!
    Thanks for sharing the recipe 💖

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April 21, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend With Simply Beautiful Eating

Before I begin, I need to clarify something with all of you. Ready?

Is it a woman’s prerogative to change her mind OR is it NOT?

Now, don’t just jump up and scream YES before reading the rest of this story because that wouldn’t be fair to Steve.

As you know, our home is under renovation. It’s been exactly 6 weeks since D DAY (demo day). I have been running around to various places trying to pick out all the stuff we need to put this Simply Beautiful “kitchen puzzle” together. I will keep this brief because I want to save all the juicy details for my REAL RENOVATION blog which will be coming up soon if we ever finish this project.

So here’s the thing.

I’m wondering how I have still have a husband – because he literally wants to L.E.A.V.E.

Why?

Well….it’s like this.

I KEEP CHANGING MY MIND.

First it was the paint colour and my quest for the PERFECT grey (which I’m happy to say I FOUND – well sort of found….12 samples later, one wasted can of paint and a few hundred trips to Benjamin Moore, I had my GREY mixed and remixed 3 times to get it JUSSSSTTTT RIGHT).

Then it was the hardwood flooring which was ordered, cancelled, ordered, cancelled, ordered and finally installed.

Oh ya. The lighting. Don’t get me started. All I’m going to say is….last night I threatened to sell the house because of my sheer unadulterated hatred for the LED pot lights Steve installed.

YES. That’s right.

FOR SALE – AS IS– NEWLY RENOVATED, 4 BEDROOM, DOUBLE CAR GARAGE, SINGLE FAMILY DWELLING WITH HIDEOUS LIGHTING (OFFERS READILY ACCEPTED EVEN THOUGH I AM POSITIVE NO ONE IS GOING TO BUY A HOUSE WITH STADIUM LIGHTING)

The island.

I always wanted a kitchen island. This was supposed to be my dream work station, with tons of space for rolling dough, creating dishes, and storing all kinds of kitchen crap in and on top of. AH….MY OWN OASIS….I could not wait.

So.

It (the island) arrived.

AND…..

it was too small.

SO?

I told my husband that it needs to be bigger

(I said it really fast by the way….kinda like this…..

“Steve? Theislandneedstobelarger…I’mgoingoutnowBYE!”

That’s when I realized that there was a good chance he would ensure I wake up on a REMOTE deserted island yelling…WILSON….WILSON!!!!

To conclude there are two things you need to know today.

1) Steve is the best (let’s just refer to him as SAINT STEVE – Master of Patience once in a while or practically never
2) I made these brownies eons ago and saved them to post now because who can bake brownies with no oven? I was tempted to go out and buy an Easy Bake Oven. Only problem is, the last time I had one in the house all three of my children ended up with salmonella poisoning from our experiment of baking a cake with a LIGHT BULB.

Needless to say, I’m going stir crazy without the ability to cook, bake, photograph and do my usual shtick on here. We just have to wait for the rest of the puzzle to come together – unless I change MY MIND.

TRIPLE CHOCOLATE CHUNK PRETZEL BROWNIES
– ½ cup unsalted butter
– 1 cup chopped good quality dark chocolate
– 1¼ cups granulated sugar
– 3 large eggs
– ½ tsp. salt
– 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
– ¾ cup all-purpose flour
– ½ cup cocoa powder, sifted
– 1 cup chunks of good quality chocolate (dark, semi-sweet, milk and/or white chocolate), divided
– 1 cup pretzels

1) Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter a 9” x 9” brownie pan and line it with parchment paper so that it hangs over two of the sides. Dust the two other edges with cocoa powder. Set aside.
2) In a medium saucepan, heat the butter and dark chocolate on medium, stirring every so often. When everything is melted, take the pan off the heat.
3) Add the granulated sugar and stir it in, then add the eggs, one at a time, making sure to stir well after each addition. Mix in the salt and vanilla.
4) Stir in the flour and cocoa powder. Next add three-quarters of the chunks of chocolate.
5) Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon or small offset spatula. Scatter the remaining chocolate chunks on top.
6) Bake the brownies for 30 to 40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean. For fudgier brownies, bake them for 30 minutes.
7) Cool completely at room temperature before cutting.
8) Top with pretzels if desired. Makes  24 bite size, 16 small squares or 8 giant size ones.

See you next week!

debi
@simplybeautifuleating
Simply Beautiful Eating

xx, Debi
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