Bubbly Watermelon Rosé Sangria

watermelon sangria
This is my fourth recipe this week! It’s a quick one, but a yummy one. I figured a cocktail would be the perfect thing to post before a holiday weekend.

This is probably more like a cross between sangria and a wine spritzer, which are my two favourite drinks in the summer. I feel like spritzers are perfect for hot weather since they’re not as dehydrating as a straight glass of wine. And adding some fruit to it just adds to the summeriness.

watermelon sangria
And the other thing I love is rosé (also: Brooklyn Nine Nine). Maybe I’m just falling for the LCBO’s clever marketing, but every one I’ve tried this summer has been delicious! We have a bottle that we picked up on our Niagara-on-the-Lake engagement weekend from Between The Lines winery and I am so excited to crack it open. Maybe for a little post wedding celebrating?

watermelon sangria

Bubbly Watermelon Rosé Sangria

  • 1/2 bottle rose (I just used a bottle of Jackson-Triggs – I didn’t want to go too fancy since I was adding to it!)
  • 3/4 cup watermelon juice
  • 1/2 small watermelon, diced
  • 1.5 cups sparkling water

Place the diced watermelon in a pitcher and pour the wine over it. Let chill in the fridge for at least an hour. When ready to serve, add the juice and the soda and stir briefly. Serve with plenty of the watermelon in each glass. Yum!

Summer Greens and Grains Hodegpodge

Oh summer, the time when the Toronto farmer’s markets fill with the most amazing selection of fresh veggies and fruits!

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I uh, may have gone a little overboard last week.

The thing about buying tons and tons of veggies is that I always struggle with making quick weeknight dinners with them. There are lots of elaborate things I love to do with veggies, but sometimes I just need something that’s quick, yummy and doesn’t require me to dirty all the dishes.

Luckily, after all my success with my favourite quinoa salad, I’ve been cooking a lot more with grains. On their own, they can be a touch boring, but cooked in broth (or with Better Than Bouillon) and topped with roasted or sauted veggies, they are delicious.

In fact, judging from my instagram, this is probably one of my frequent meals!

grains and veggies IMG_4750 grains and veggies grains and veggies

(clockwise from top left: quinoa with peas, farro with peas and a side of garlicky tofu, farro mixed with roasted brussels sprouts, quinoa with peas and basil with a side of Smitten Kitchen’s zucchini parmesan crisps)

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Vegetarian Cheeseburger Macaroni

veg hamburger helper

Confession time! I was a terrible cook when I first moved out on my own. It wasn’t due to a lack of role models or experience, because as a kid I spent tons of time watching my mom cook delicious and healthy dinners. I think it was just a lack of practice with the day to day part of feeding myself.

So my inexperience led me to eat a lot of pretty disturbing things as an undergrad. My favourite dinner EVER was these President’s Choice frozen breaded macaroni and cheese nuggets. So horrifying processed but so so good. I also ate a lot of Kraft Dinner, as every good Canadian university student does. And my favourite discovery was probably Hamburger Helper. Growing up in a health-conscious, vegetarian household, I’d never tried it before. But I would substitute with fake ground beef and I just loved it.

veg hamburger helper

And OK, this version uses some processed foods. But I am willing to beat that there is way less sodium in this version than in the original – especially if you go with no-salt-added tomatoes and use a light hand when seasoning everything. And it really takes no time at all.

veg hamburger helper
This version has a touch of spice to it which really adds to that homey feeling. I know it seems crazy to be craving comfort food in August, but there have been some really chilly days this summer!

veg hamburger helper

Vegetarian Cheeseburger Macaroni

I used the pre-seasoned version of veggie ground beef (it’s all my grocery store carries!), but I’ve written the recipe so you can season it yourself and buy the plain kind.

  • 1 28 ox can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp Better Than Bouillon or 1 bouillon cube
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup dry macaroni
  • 1 package of vegetarian ground beef (I used Yves but President’s Choice makes a good one too!)

For the cheese sauce:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup 2% milk (I used whole just because it was what I had)
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese

In a large pot, pour in the canned tomatoes and add 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil and add pasta, spices, bouillon and salt. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently so the pasta doesn’t stick together.

While the pasta is cooking, make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter over medium heat, then whisk in the flour. Cook until the mixture is bubbling, then add the milk and whisk until smooth. Let cook for a few minutes until thickened. Once the mixture can coat the back of a spoon nicely, add the grated cheese and stir until melted.

Once the macaroni is cooked, remove the pot from heat and add the vegetarian ground beef, stirring to ensure it is thoroughly heated. Add the cheese sauce, stir and serve!

Homemade Two Bite Brownies

So, we’re all equally obsessed with these, right?

The first time I tried them, I was probably about 14 and my parents were having our neighbours over for dinner. They brought these along for dessert and I couldn’t believe how good they were! I kept sneaking into the kitchen to grab more. They’re just so fudgy and moist. Mmm. That’s all I want in a brownie.

Well, I recently posted this on instagram:
two bite brownies

And I was surprised when two different people requested the recipe! It almost seems TOO easy to justify having a recipe, but I suppose what makes the homemade ones the best are that they have that same fudgy moist taste but way fewer ingredients. Using melted chocolate instead of cocoa for the brownie makes it so much richer tasting. And the best part about this recipe is that it’s a one-bowl method!

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Teensy Weensy Black Bean Burgers

veggie burgers

Ok. I feel awkward. I realize that the last time I posted it was uh, February. And now it’s nearly July and I need to explain my total silence the past four months. Let’s see. I guess the main cause was that I changed jobs. Aaaand then I got engaged!

I know, right? So when I say I’ve been busy the past few months, I mean it! But I’ve really missed posting here, so this is my apology post and my I-hope-someone-other-than-my-mom-still-reads-this post. And I think this is the perfect recipe to start on because I’ve been promising myself I was going to make veggie burgers forEVER, and now I’ve been telling myself to get back to posting forEVER.

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pamplemoussi’s pips, volume iv

Just a short one today! It’s been a really stressful week. And next week is going to be even MORE stressful as I’m travelling to Regina for work! That’s right, I get to go somewhere even colder than Toronto.  I’m probably 20% excited and 80% anxious. This will be my first work trip and it’s a very grown up feeling!

One thing I made this week that turned out amazingly was this one-pot pasta! I’ve been hearing about it endlessly but figured it wasn’t impressive as everyone was saying it was. But my friend Matt sent me a pin and raved about this recipe (don’t you love how pinterest lets you do that?). So I made it that very night and it was delicious!

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Before… and after!

I left out the pine nuts and used 1 tsp dried basil instead of the fresh. Oh, and I used 1 tsp on red pepper flakes… but that may have been a bit too much? Will and I liked it, but I think we always want slightly spicy food in the middle of a deep freeze. It was such an easy and quick meal, it’s definitely going to enter our weeknight meal rotation.

 

I really enjoyed this Toast story about scented markers. Why did the black ones always smell so disgusting? It’s a frequently used colour!

 

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You might ask, what have I been doing to try and relieve some of my stress this week? Well, mainly just shipping Tessa and Scott. I watched their entire show on the iPad during my lunch breaks this week and it’s amazing. They are just the cutest and so good at skating. I keep telling Will that we need to learn how to ice dance so people can find us that adorable. Probably not going to happen as the last time we went skating together,  he tried to skate really fast and drag me around and I found that terrifying enough!

Alright, I’m out! Tonight I’m headed to the grilled cheese fest, so I’m pretty excited about that. Grilled cheese is probably in my top five favourite foods so I’m excited to try some of the Toronto restaurants and food trucks that I haven’t made it out to yet.

Peanut Butter Brownies

pb brownies

I first tried peanut butter brownies at this cute little bakery in the basement of St Lawrence Market. I bought a massive behemoth of a brownie, intending to eat a bit for lunch and save the rest for after dinner… and then I scarfed it in a fit of midafternoon hunger. Oops.

And when I decided to replicate it a few weeks later, I decided to use my favourite brownies recipe ever. I wasn’t even a brownie person until I tried this recipe. I think I’d just had too many brownies at bake sales that had come from a mix and I was used to cake brownies. I don’t like cake, so I definitely don’t like cake brownies. But these brownies, they’re something else. They’re so fudgy and chewy. And foolproof! And I’ve now made them so many times I don’t even need to look at the recipe anymore.

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pamplemoussi’s pips, volume iii

Wow, the third Friday in a row that I’ve managed to keep this up! Three times makes it pretty official, in my books.

So last weekend was Family Day here, and I planned to do a lot of cooking and baking and then I did… none. To be fair, we had some out of town guests, so we did what you do with guests and acted like tourists. Lots of eating in pubs and having brunch in restaurants where they put whipped cream on everything. My favourite part of the weekend was definitely going to the new aquarium that opened up right by the CN Tower. There were glowing walls of jellyfish and tanks were you could pet little sharks and horseshoe crabs, but my favourite part was the tunnel where you stand on a moving walkway and sharks swim RIGHT OVER YOU.

Aquarium! Aquarium!
Oh and there was also a blue lobster. Look at him! He’s beautiful!

 

My sister is travelling around California right now (lucky duck) and she’s been sending me amazing photos of stuff she was tempted to buy me, including some realty hilarious cat statues. And then she sent me this:
lays

WHAT?!?! Garlic cheese bread CHIPS? American friends, you’ve been holding out on me for not telling me these exist. It looks like they’ll the equivalent of the “pick your flavor” contest that Canadian Lays also had… but ours were so gross. Maple moose tasted like campfire, the caesar salad tasted like sour cream and onion chips that were slightly off and even the most promising ones, the pierogies were just more salty than flavourful. My fingers are crossed that my sister brings these ones back for me so I can try them!

I’ve got a post about peanut butter brownies coming soon, but I almost made Deb’s chocolate peanut butter cheesecake instead. Just look at those delicious layers! I will definitely make it for the next birthday around here.

Lastly, so my dad sends me Onions articles all the time, which is funny enough on its own, but this video he sent about Netflix’s new plan is PERFECT. That is exactly how I watch Netflix. Too many choices paralyzes me!

Healthier Taco Salad

taco salad

There have been times in my life when I lived on taco salad for weeks. Weeks. It’s a slippery slope: I’d buy some lettuce, cheese, beans and corn chips and think, hmm, maybe instead of tacos I’ll do taco salad, just for a change. And then I’d eat it for every lunch and dinner for like, two weeks straight! I don’t know what it is about taco salad that appeals to me, but I think a big part is that I’ve only ever had my own homemade version. Ugh, why can’t restaurants do a veg version of it? It would be so easy to omit the beef and just do beans. Or nothing! Sometimes a girl just wants some lettuce, cheese and salsa, ya know?

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pamplemoussi’s pips, volume ii

How embarrassing, a whole week without a recipe. Sorry guys. But there is a long weekend coming up, and I’d like to spend some of it cooking and blogging. Because, as a woman I work with said in a group email, “Don’t forget Monday is Family Day. Spending time with your loved ones. Young and Old. Tell them how much they mean to you and enjoy the day together.” And I like to think of my blog readers as my family, mainly because my only blog readers are family members. Haha. Ha.

But I do have a quick meal idea for today, complete with a super fancy instagram picture! So that makes up for it, right?

This sauteed kale pasta was a pinterest find, but I think the original recipe was even simpler. I add a few extras, but they’re all things I always have laying around. Like for some reason I always have a couple lemons in the fridge. And ever since I discovered how good crushed red pepper is in oh, everything, I add it to all my pasta dishes. This uses a whole bunch of kale for just two people, but if it’s for more people I think you can get away with just increasing the pasta and seasonings and leaving the kale the same.

pips volume ii

Start a large pot of salted water boiling, and when it boils, add 1/2 a package of spaghetti (this is for two people mind you, you may need to increase it for more). Meanwhile, chop 3 cloves of garlic, and cook them in a tablespoon of olive oil over low heat in a frying pan. Chop one bunch of kale into smaller-than-bite-sized pieces. When I got Will to do this, he put it in a colander and then used kitchen shears to chop it into very small bits, which worked well! Saute the kale in the oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. While it cooks, season with a pinch of salt, lots of fresh ground pepper, 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper, and the zest of one lemon. The kale is ready when it’s cooked down and soft. When the pasta is al dente, drain it and add it to the frying pan. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over the pasta, and squeeze the juice of half a lemon. Toss to mix, and top with a little freshly grated parmesan. Delicious! One of the best 15 minute dinners we make.

pips volume ii
If you ever want to know what my life was like from oh, ages 10-24, please go read this book. So so good. I was obviously reading sections aloud to Will to be like, “She also wrote entire diaries just about boys she had crushes on!” And I was so excited to finish it that I stayed up super late on a work night. A work night!

I loved this story about the division of domestic labour in a relationship. It’s funny how these tasks just become yours on some unspoken agreement. Last night Will was tired and asked me to fill the humidifier with water (god, we’re so old), and I was definitely like, “But that’s your job!” He also always handles cable and internet accounts, and cleaning the tub (he finds it weird that I refuse to clean with bleach). And his coffee is way better than mine (which is especially weird because I worked at Starbucks for years!). When I asked Will which tasks he thought of as being mine, he immediately was like, “Cleaning my glasses! You just get the smudges off so much better.” Good to know I’m bringing some good skills to this partnership.

pips volume ii
Lastly, sometimes we try to be all fancy with our cheese and crackers, but I have to be honest with you, this is just Smuckers. So lazy.