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
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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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April 7, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend With Simply Beautiful Eating

I just wanted to share a little secret with you. I completely forgot about this recipe and the accompanying photos. Most likely because I’m living in renovation (hell) disarray and it’s been a messy, long and arduous process. As most of you know, I’m “kitchenless”, which means I have no stove, oven or full size sink.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking. She’s suffering  from the dreaded “Woe Is Me Effect”. Well, you’re right. Working from an upstairs bathroom isn’t my idea of fun. Every time I look to my left while preparing our salad, I see a TOILET. I can’t seem to justify preparing a meal in a room with a commode. I just can’t.

Anyhoo. You need a stovetop and an oven to make this recipe. Don’t even try to make this on a hot plate because it will end up being an omelette and not a frittata.

What’s the difference? I’ll tell you.

Frittatas are cooked in a cast iron pan or oven-safe skillet because they are started on the stovetop and then finished in the oven. And, unlike omelets, frittata fillings are mixed in with the eggs in the pan rather than folded in the center.

Why is this great? Because I seriously SUCK at making omelettes. No matter how slippery slidey the pan is, mine always seem to fall apart and break upon flipping or folding. Yes, I know there are tricks of the trade, but being an “omelette chef” is not in the cards for me. It’s just NOT.

These tomatoes were actually from our summer crop in the garden. That’s the clue on how old these photos are because right now our garden is in spring thaw mode. Nonetheless,  tomatoes are readily available at the market year round, so you needn’t worry about growing your own, unless you happen to have a hothouse in your backyard.

The other thing I love about this recipe is that it reminds me of a party. Here’s what you need to do right now. Grab your friends, partner, husband or wife and dance around the room saying FRITTATA several times. I’m going to do that later tonight. Perhaps it will put me in a better mood when I’m slinging salad in the washroom. Cha cha cha.

GREEK ROASTED TOMATO FRITTATA

– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– ½ cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
– 1 cup baby spinach
– 3 – 4 large eggs
– ½ teaspoon kosher salt
– ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
– 1 ounce feta cheese, crumbled
– ½ cup chopped red or yellow peppers
– 2 tablespoons chopped chives
– 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
– 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

1) Preheat the oven to 350F.
2) Add the olive oil to the tomatoes and place on a cookie sheet to roast for 10 -15 minutes, or until tomatoes burst open and are nicely caramelized.
3) In the meantime, whisk the eggs in a bowl with a fork. Add the feta, spinach, red pepper, chives and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4) Heat an 8 or 9 inch cast iron pan on your stovetop and place the roasted tomatoes in, then pour the egg mixture on top of the tomatoes and give everything a good stir, don’t overcook – the frittata will set in the oven.
5) Place the pan in the oven for 15-20 minutes. The cooking time will depend on the thickness of your frittata. Simply stick a sharp knife into the middle to test if it has cooked through. Serve warm with a sprinkle of fresh parsley, dill and additional feta cheese.

xx, Debi
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March 31, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend With Simply Beautiful Eating

Is it Amandine or Almondine? Let me explain.

Amandine is a culinary term demonstrating a garnish of almonds. Dishes that include an “amandine” are usually cooked with butter and seasonings, then sprinkled with whole or flaked, toasted almonds.

Just to clarify, the term is often spelled almondine in US or Canadian cookbooks. No matter how you say it, it basically means sopped in butter and sprinkled with almonds which is absolutely fine by me.

As you may or may not know, my husband Steve is the C.S.O. of the household. (Chief Shopping Officer). He does the majority of the grocery and produce shopping on the weekends.

Although he is usually quite willing and cheerful about the excursion, here are some things that make him cranky during the experience.

1) Locating a product on the list – This is right about the time I get the phone call. Steve is wandering around in circles looking for the “said” item on MY LIST. I’m patiently guiding him through the store to exactly where it should be located. He arrives at the GPS point and tells me that “it’s not on the shelf”. To which I answer “it has to be, I saw it there last week”. To which he replies “it’s not here”. To which I reply “ask someone to look in the back for it”. TO WHICH he REPLIES “I asked and they said it’s discontinued”.
2) The “express lanes” – used for those who have 8 items or less or in most cases, those who cannot count.
3) The 15 other checkout lanes – with only two open and 10 deep with people and their carts preparing for an apocalypse.
4) The “Baryshnikov” shopping cart – you know what I’m talking about. The cart with an errant front wheel that pirouettes like a ballet dancer on crack.
5) A.R.R.S. – Aisle Road Rage Syndrome – A disease that is associated with the urge of knocking aside an AISLE BLOCKER. Those that feel they can cordon off an entire aisle for the purpose of aimlessly reading nutritional information on product labels.
6) The Super Market Social – If you were never invited to this V.I.P. event, ask Steve to get you IN. He always runs into SOMEONE who he knows while he’s there who says “oh hey, it’s so great to see you” and 40 minutes later cause another condition called M.F.Y.S. – Melting Frozen Yogurt Syndrome.
7) Items on SPECIAL – Each week we receive a local newspaper with “flyers”. I am not allowed to TOUCH his flyers until he has examined each and every one of them. He then makes a list of crap on SALE and informs me that IF I really want paper towels for $3.99 a six pack, I better get them myself because he’s not running to more than one store on the weekend. Nine times out of ten I forget to go and he reminds me that I have MISSED out on something big, something REALLY big.
8) The haul – There is always a mystery of how the final bill totals $263.47 worth of groceries and we end up going out for dinner because there is nothing to eat.
9) The checkout lady – who always asks, “did you find everything you need”? To which my husband always replies, “not according to my wife”.
10) Dislocated Shoulder Syndrome – my husband likes to demonstrate that it is humanly possible to carry ALL the groceries into the house in ONE fell swoop. This sometimes requires balancing items on his head, in his teeth and kicking the door open with his foot. It also results in a week long of belly aching because inevitably his shoulders have succumbed to falling out of their sockets from the shear weight of the 16 bags and laundry detergent he has transported from the car into the house in ONE trip.
11) Unpacking the groceries – This is the stage I offer my assistance and am denied because “I don’t know how to FIT them into a fridge that’s big enough to house food for 18 people. Apparently the technique of organizing produce is exactly the same as stacking the dishwasher – both of which I suck at.
12) The grocery list – Steve asks me to text him additional items that I would most likely NEED to use in a photo shoot and are imperative to include in a recipe. Please note the word IMPERATIVE.  While unpacking the groceries I will ask “where’s the Greek yogurt’? To which he replies “was it on the list”? To which I reply “yes, check the text I sent you”. To which he replies “OH”. “I guess I didn’t SCROLL down far enough”.
13) The Green Beans – my husband always purchases one or two vegetables that sit in the crisper for what seems like an eternity until he says “we really need to make those before they go bad”.

THIS WAS ONE OF THESE TIMES ↓

So……

Here you have it.  Green Beans Almondine….Amandine……oh whatever….beans with butter and nuts.

Green Beans Almondine

– 1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
– 3 tablespoons butter
– ⅓ cup sliced or slivered almonds
– 1 teaspoon lemon juice
– Season with sea salt if desired and a few grinds of fresh black pepper, to taste
– Additional lemon wedges for garnish

1) Cook green beans in a small amount of salted water until tender but still firm.
2) Drain and immediately immerse in a large bowl of ice water to blanch. This will help the beans remain beautifully bright green.
3) Heat a large skillet over a medium heat and add the almonds. Toast them by stirring constantly for about 30 seconds. You want them light brown but not burnt. DO NOT WALK AWAY…I’m serious here because I did and ended up with cremated almonds.
4) Add the butter and the lemon juice to the pan and mix with almonds. Add the beans and sauté for one to two minutes, or until all of the beans are coated.
5) Season to taste with sea salt and pepper and serve warm.

See you next week!

debi
@simplybeautifuleating
Simply Beautiful Eating

xx, Debi
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March 24, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend With Simply Beautiful Eating

For those of you who have been following along on Snapchat and my Insta Story, you know what the current state of affairs is in my home. We are living in total chaos right now during a kitchen and main floor renovation. No one said this was going to be a walk in the park, but we have learned to manage without a kitchen, and to be honest, I’m quite proud of US. Here are a few things we are doing to get us through the next few months.

1) We set up a “mock” kitchen – The location of this kitchen is in our boy’s old bathroom upstairs. Well? There’s a sink, a counter, a toilet and a shower in there, so what more did we need? Nothing.
2) Our new pantry area – We placed boxes of the contents of our cupboards and flatware drawers in my youngest son’s old bedroom. Perfect space to store all the large tubs of dry goods, sauces, oils, cleaning equipment etc. (My first thought about using our every day dishes was NO WAY. Why not just live on paper plates for the next three months? That didn’t bode well when you actually have to cut something on your plate and you saw right through it to the table. Besides, it wasn’t an eco-friendly idea anyways…despite the fact that I’m a total lazeball when it comes to doing dishes without a dishwasher. God, I’m spoiled.
3) Cooking with no stove – Yes, we have NO STOVE, but the good news is we have a fridge, microwave and I bought a hot plate for my food videos, so basically we are GOOD to go. The microwave comes in handy for reheating meals and the hot plate is just the best thing on earth for making everything from stir-frys to soup.
4) Our new dining room – We set up a bridge table and two folding chairs in my office/studio. It’s fine, with the exception of the days where we had the heat turned OFF by the contractor and sat shivering with a small space heater at our feet while eating our dinner.

This turkey vegetable egg drop soup is the easiest reno recipe ever. Everything is made in one pot on the magic hot plate and voila…….you have a meal in a bowl. In fact, you have a meal that you can actually eat right out of the pot – to save yourself from cleaning the bowl!

TURKEY VEGETABLE EGG DROP SOUP

– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 medium onion, minced
– 1 clove of garlic, minced
– 1 large carrot, chopped
– 1 large tomato chopped
– 4 cups chicken broth, homemade or boxed organic
– 1 cup cooked turkey, shredded
– 2 eggs, beaten
– salt and pepper to taste
– 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
– 3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese

1) In a medium pot heat olive oil over medium high heat. Saute onion for 3-4 minutes. Add minced garlic. Saute for another minute. Add chopped carrot. Add chopped tomato. Continue to saute for a few more minutes. Add chicken broth and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add shredded turkey. Remove from heat. Start stirring in a soup in a circular motion. Slowly drop beaten eggs. Stir for about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add chopped flat leaf parsley and grated parmesan. Top with additional parmesan and parsley!

Click here to see a quick run through of these steps!

See you next week!
debi @simplybeautifuleating
S
imply Beautiful Eating

xx, Debi
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