Thursday, January 22, 2009

I MOVED!!

SO as I mentioned before, I was thinking for a while about how to change the blog, if I wanted to even come back to blogging, etc., and decided that while I was thinking about all of this I might as well just migrate over to wordpress and see how I like it there. I like it. haha. I'm sorry because I know it's a pain to change your links but please come visit me over there and I promise I'll be around a lot more often and will be delivering some new and improved blogging :)

Thanks for all of your sweet comments the other day too, I appreciate every single one of you and have been reading your blogs for months now, even though I haven't always been vocal about it :/

http://chocolatecoffeekitchen.wordpress.com

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Greetings! haha

Hello friends :)
I'm not sure if there's anyone still out there... I know I've been gone for a while. A LOT has happened in the past few months. When I last left you I was living in Montreal with my boyfriend, however now I've moved home to live with my parents in Nova Scotia (I don't blame you if you don't know where that is, there's not much to see haha) and the boy is attending nursing school at UMass Amherst, so we're doing the long distance thing for now. Not fun. I've thought about taking up blogging again but changing the focus of the blog.. I'm not sure what will happen yet though. I just wanted to give a little shoutout to let you know I am still reading your blogs and lurking in blogland :)
xox linds

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Happy Birthday to Meeee

I've always loved birthdays for the simple fact that they are your day. You get to choose what you do, where you go, who comes to your party (lol my inner 8 year old coming out there) annnd you get to choose the food. Of course. The food. Though I love going out to dinner, staying in and cooking is often just as fun- and with birthdays just 5 days apart, the boyfriend and I decided to save some cash and just go all out with two days of awesome home birthday menus :)

For my day, I chose pizza. It's such a fast and easy dish using my new fave dough recipe. I doubled it to get 2 pizzas, topping one with buffalo sauce, tomato sauce, chicken and mozzarella like the first time I made this, and for the second one I just coated the dough with olive oil and spread caramelized onions, walnuts, and Swiss cheese on top. In retrospect, I wish I had used some figs on this one too, but they weren't totally necessary and both pizzas tasted fantastic.

What's a birthday without cake?! For myself I chose to make this yellow cake with chocolate fudge frosting. So yum, a nice light crumb texture and nothing was cloyingly sweet. And there's my sweetie placing candles on the cake in the shape of a '23'. Awww :)

For his day, the birthday boy decided he didn't want cake and challenged me to find a lower-fat sweet. Which really isn't a challenge at all when you have Happy Herbivore recipes at your fingertips. I made her Pecan Cinnamon Buns and I was absolutely blown away by how good they were. I mean, of course having used her recipes before I expected perfection, but this.... These sticky buns were out of this world good. And so easy. They were definitely my favourite item on the birthday menu roundup and will be making many future Sunday morning appearances.


Naked buns, frosted buns! Hahaha


Then for dinner, we had Smitten Kitchen peanut sesame noodles, except that we had them hot, and had vegetables on the side so that each noodle bite could be as peanut buttery noodley as possible (birthday boy request).

Birthdays should also involve lots of wine- I think there's a bottle visible in every picture except with the cinnamon buns. We had those at 10am so we held off on the wine. But just until noon.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Overcoming My Fear of Yeast

I love to read through recipes and start planning dinners around them- however, more often than not, when I'm scanning down the ingredients list and see the word "yeast", I turn the page. Dealbreaker. I don't do yeast. At least I didn't, but yesterday that all changed and I couldn't be happier.

The recipe to change my mind was none other than pizza dough. Basic, simple pizza dough. That's what Deb told me, and though I feared that it couldn't possibly work, I believed her (having already made her delicious pumpkin butter didn't hurt in helping to instill a little trust).

All that was asked of me was to mix together flour, yeast (I used instant because my store was out of active dry somehow) salt, water and olive oil. Knead, form into a ball and place it in a greased bowl covered with plastic wrap. Let it rise for 1-2 hours somewhere warm- I preheated my oven at 200 for a few minutes, shut it off, and then stowed my growing dough in there. Push the air out of it. Let it rest another 20 minutes under the plastic wrap again, then take it out and roll in into desired shape (in my case, a deformed circular rectangle, in Deb's case a perfect circle). Top it with whatever your heart desires and bake it quickly in a scorching hot oven. Enter pizza nirvana. Check!

I made mine buffalo chicken style, by mixing some sliced precooked chicken cubes with 1/2 cup tomato sauce and 1-2 tbsp buffalo chicken sauce. I also used mozzarella cheese and sliced green onions, but was really wishing I had blue cheese on hand to make this truly perfect.


Ta da! You can bet I was incredibly proud of my pizza. You can also bet that I will be making this again. Now that I've conquered my fear of yeast, I can't wait to move onto more ambitious dishes (bread, or cinnamon rolls perhaps?).

The pizza dough recipe can be found here, and really now that I've done it you have no excuse not to try it. No one should be scared of yeast :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Moose Madness & The Finest Foods of Fall

What a whirlwind weekend I've had. I feel like a celebrity jetsetter. Except for the small fact that I was in a car, not a jet, I'm tired because I stared down a highway for 2 days and not due to fancy time zone changes, and I went to Nova Scotia, not Milan. So actually not like a celebrity jetsetter at all. Anyway, on to some actual details about my trip- the boyfriend (Steve for future reference, it gets tiresome typing out "the boyfriend") and I picked up the car around noon on Thursday and proceeded to pack my life into it, aka 4 years' worth of university textbooks, furniture, clothing, and whatever else you can cram into a small car. Let me tell you, we did NOT waste space either. Any and all free nooks were stuffed with dirty laundry for us to wash at home (anyone else still do this? I always bring laundry home, even when home is 12 hours away...). We left a couple hours behind schedule but figured we could make up the lost time by speeding through Quebec. Not a good idea. We got pulled over less than an hour out of the city by a cop with a huge flashing arrow on his car. We somehow didn't notice this huge, blinking monstrosity on the side of the road. He didn't speak a whole lot of English and we wound up with a speeding ticket. Whoops, so much for trying to get back on the time schedule.

The rest of Quebec involved an hour-long detour through god knows where and then we entered New Brunswick, which shall now be know as the land of the moose. By now it was insanely foggy and 2am and there were these huge moose crossing signs every 5km with ATTENTION written in bright red letters underneath a picture of a huge moose. I never thought I would be scared of moose, but I am now. I did not want one of those going through my windshield. Luckily though, we arrived moose-free and safe in Nova Scotia at 4am. Of course we woke up my mom and her new PUPPY which we had to play with for a bit before heading to bed at the very reasonable hour of 5:30am.

After the trauma involved in actually arriving, the visit itself was quite relaxing. My dad bought us 4 pounds (yes you read that correctly) of super fresh NS scallops for dinner Friday night. They were fresh enough to eat raw- I tried one this way and wow, it just melted in my mouth. I have never before tasted seafood that good. We had our big turkey dinner on Saturday which was also amazing and involved homemade stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, wine, and those infamous NYTimes Chocolate Chip Cookies. They are worth the hype, go make some now!!!

We left Sunday morning and got back into the city (moose-free again) late that evening. So while it was a quick visit, I'm certainly glad we went. Except for that speeding ticket.

Now that I'm back in my own home, I feel completely immersed in the Fall season. All of the leaves are turning gorgeous shades of red and yellow and the air is crisp, yet the sun keeps the days fairly warm. This is by far my favourite time of year, and not just for the scenery. You may exclaim over perfectly ripe strawberries and summer tomatoes all you like- but for me, nothing beats an apple right off the tree in the middle of Fall. I didn't get a chance to go apple picking while home (and there aren't many orchards in downtown Montreal) so I've contented myself with luscious Honeycrisps for eating raw and deliciously tart Granny Smiths for cooking. Apple pie and apple crisp are quintessential Autumn desserts for me, and the smell of cinnamon in my kitchen is comfort at its best, so it wasn't hard for me to choose what to make for dessert tonight. I decided to play with the flavours a little by adding in a pear to this apple crisp recipe, and wow what a difference it made! I will be going back to this recipe all Autumn long :)

Apple-Pear Crisp

Filling:
2 Granny Smith apples, chopped into small cubes
1 pear, chopped into small cubes
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
1 1/2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Streusel Topping:
1/4 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 to 2 teaspoons chilled butter, cut into pieces



(1) Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine all filling ingredients and mix well. Pour into greased (I used cooking spray) pie dish or oven-safe saucepan.

(2) Mix together all streusel ingredients (except for butter) until well blended. Cut in butter until lumps start to form in the mixture. *For a richer taste, use more butter- up to 3 tablespoons if desired. I wanted to keep this light so I cut down the butter and just sprayed my crisp with a little cooking spray before putting it into the oven*

(3) Top filling evenly with streusel topping. Bake for roughly 45 minutes, until apples and pears are soft. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. Tastes best with a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Kitchen Wars

The cabinet doors are closed but I can still almost feel an air of jealousy and rivalry in the kitchen... Peanut Butter, a longtime favourite, is feeling threatened (and rightfully so) for look who I brought home:

There's a new nut butter in town, and boy is this one good! Macadamia nuts are my absolute fave (how awesome would it be if Larabar made a Macadamia Nut Cookie bar?!?!), and in this spread they provide a perfect sweetness. The creamy texture and taste made this hands-down the best nut butter I have ever tried. I had seen this brand (Nuts to You Nut Butter Inc.) in stores before but shied away from the $8/jar price tag. Tonight, however, I found it in a tiny Arabic grocery store for only $3.29- that's cheaper than the pb is at my favourite health food store! And at that price, peanut butter is fighting a losing battle for shelf space in my kitchen.

In other news, the boyfriend and I are embarking on an adventure this week- we are renting a car and driving from Montreal to my hometown in Nova Scotia to celebrate (Canadian) Thanksgiving with my family. Sounds lovely and all, except that this glorious trip is going to take us 14 hours to complete. Yep, that's one way. Needless to say, 28 hours on the road within a 4 day span means LOTS of car snacks- what are your favourites?? I have a lot of stocking up to do!! Hopefully we don't get lost in rural Quebec or run into moose in New Brunswick (they have moose crossing signs all over there). I'll be sure to fill you all in on whether I make it through the drive with my sanity intact, and of course post some pics of the fresh seafood and turkey dinner waiting for us in NS!

Have a great week all! :)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Kermit-Colored

I beg to differ with Mr. Kermit the Frog- it is VERY easy to be green! Especially with this bright smoothie :) I've heard about green smoothies and the even more healthful process of jucicing and drinking your greens, and now that I've finally tried it I can't believe I waited so long.

For this smoothie I started with roughly a cup of frozen mango chunks. Then I added a good handful of spinach (washed and stems removed), some ice cubes, and a little unsweetened soymilk (or you could use water, to make it Raw). I gave it an extra-long run in the blender just to make sure I wouldn't wind up with spinachy bits. What I finally got to taste was a rich, thick, refreshing smoothie. The spinach gave a great texture and provided a balance to the sweet mango. I loved it this way, but if you're a little wary of spinach in your smoothies or want a sweeter taste, adding in half a banana would most likely add that extra creamy sweetness.

Greens in general have been on my mind a lot lately since I started reading Kristen's Raw, both her blog and her raw lifestyle pages. While I don't think a 100% raw vegan lifestyle is the one for me, I really like her philosophy and her energy. I do feel "better", more alive, when I eat pure, unprocessed foods in their natural states. I'm going to try to do a raw day- just to see how it makes me feel. And if that's the only 100% raw day I ever do, that's fine by me, because no matter what else I'm eating I know my new love for green smoothies will ensure I'm getting in *some* raw all the time :)