recipes

Roasted Garlic Pasta

roasted garlic
I eat a lot of garlic. A lot. Luckily for me, my parents grow the tastiest organic garlic in Ontario, so I always have a great supply. Sometimes the heads are a bit smaller than the ones you buy in a grocery store, but they taste so much better.

With cold and flu season just around the corner, the more garlic I eat, the more protected I feel. Lately I’ve been averaging at least a head of garlic a day, so hopefully that will take care of any of the germs that sneak my way. I eat most of it raw, but once in a while I like to roast some: it gives garlic this mellow quality and ends up being so rich.

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recipes

Super Quick Tortilla Soup

soooooup

This was one of those great weekday dinners that takes maybe 30 minutes to throw together. And a lot of that is cooking, so you can be doing other things. Like watching endless episodes of Parks and Rec,  as I have been doing ever since we finally got Netflix. If only we had a TV in the kitchen so I could watch while I chopped vegetables.

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Admittedly, the best part of this soup is the toppings. I went with avocado, cheddar cheese, crushed chips and lime. When my friend Melissa made this soup for me, she also served it with sour cream, but I have a bad habit of buying huge tubs of sour cream and using only a few tablespoons before it goes bad, so I decided to skip it this time.
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Super Quick Tortilla Soup

  • 1 white onion
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 4 stalks of celery, diced (psst! If you’ve made yourself some vegetarian shepherds pie recently, you’ll probably have some leftover carrots and celery!)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (I used a bouillon cube out of laziness)
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 can black beans
  • salt and pepper to taste

For topping:

  • diced avocado
  • grated cheddar cheese
  • slightly crushed tortilla chips
  • lime slices

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, celery and carrots and cook until the onions are translucent, stirring a few times. Add the garlic, jalapeno and the spices. Cook for a few more minutes, then add the broth, tomatoes and black beans.

Simmer for about 15 minutes over medium-low heat, until the flavours start to meld together and the carrots are soft (I like to taste it often to check the seasoning as well). Serve with a variety of toppings.

 

soooooup

 

recipes

Vegetarian Shepherds Pie

shepherds pie

Gosh, this has been such a productive weekend. Originally our plan for today was to go to the Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival (it would be the third year in a row that I went!). But it poured rain all morning, so we stayed in a cleaned and hemmed curtains and hung paintings. And then we topped it off with a trip to Target for a mirror. It was a very domestic afternoon. It feels really good to have a quiet weekend in, after so many weekends of moving and packing and weddings and craziness.

shepherds pie

The rain and the cozy feeling inspired me to make an equally cozy meal. I’ve made vegetarian shepherds pie before, but previously I’d used fake ground beef . This time I wanted something a little easier, so I went with lentils for the bulk of the filling. This was a great way to use up some of the veggies my parents had left me last time they were in town. In fact, the only vegetables that weren’t from them were the peas!

shepherds pie

(some cooking essentials: wine and scrap bowl. Doesn’t everyone cook with a scrap bowl? It’s so much easier then going back and forth to the garbage)

shepherds pie

(my parents’ carrots, celery and onions!)

shepherds pie

Vegetarian Shepherds Pie

For the filling:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • one onion, diced
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • red wine (optional)
  • 1 ½ cups green lentils
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 156 ml can tomato paste
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the potato topping:

  • 4 medium baking potatoes (I actually used about 12 little potatoes, but that’s just the size my parents’ potatoes come in!)
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup grated old cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup grated parmesan

Start by sautéing the onions, carrots and celery in the olive oil for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another five minutes. If you’ve got some red wine laying around, you can deglaze the pan with a glug or two (but I realize not everyone has bottles of homemade wine lying around, like me). Meanwhile boil four cups of water and dissolve the bouillon cube in it. Add the lentils to the sautéed vegetables and then the boiling water. Cook for about 20 minutes over medium heat, stirring a few times.

Meanwhile, peel and quarter the potatoes. Boil the potatoes until tender, then drain and mash with the butter and cheeses. Add some salt and a bit of fresh ground black pepper. Set aside until the lentil mixture is cooked.

Once most of the liquid has been absorbed by the lentils, add the tomato paste, the spices and the peas. Cook for another two minutes to cook the peas, then remove from heat.

Assemble the pie by filling a casserole dish halfway with the lentil mixture, then top with the potatoes (I ran a fork along the potatoes to get some nice ridges). Place under a broiler until the top gets golden brown – about five minutes. Serve and enjoy!

shepherds pie

decorating, non-recipe posts

And now I’m 27!

Oh my, I certainly didn’t intend to disappear from this little corner of the internet. In fact, I had all these grandiose plans about blogging about the move and organizing and all that jazz. But then instead I was my sister’s maid of honour, moved in with Will and changed my work hours all within the course of three weeks. So I was a bit stressed. And when I’m stressed, I go into what my mom calls hibernation mode, which is what happens when you’re so stressed about everything going on that the minute you have any down time, your brain is like, “Nope, shut it down” and you start going to bed at 9 pm. Which was probably especially fun for Will, who’d pictured moving in with a fun girlfriend, and instead moved in with a cranky, perpetually exhausted bear.

Speaking of bears, and my birthday, I always feel like birthdays are a time of reflection. And what I’ve been reflecting on lately is that I need to stop being so darn hard on myself. In fact, that might be my number one resolution for the next year.

This is inspired by one of my favourite Stephen Fry quotes: “A bear doesn’t go to sleep thinking ‘I wasn’t really a very good bear today.’ They are just 100% bear, whereas human beings feel we’re not 100% human, that we’re always letting ourselves down. We’re constantly striving towards something, to some fulfilment”

I would like to go to bed each night and not think, “I haven’t been a very good human lately.” I am the kind of person who will beat themselves up for any and all of the following: leaving my dishes in the sink too long. Not calling my mom enough. Dressing like a slob for too many days in a row. Bickering with my boyfriend. Not cooking enough. Not eating enough vegetables. Not blogging enough. Forgetting to take pictures of events. Accidentally ignoring a text or email from someone for a day or two.
mac and cheese
So along with this new promise to be kinder to myself, is a promise to be better at self care. Last Wednesday night was a perfect example. I’d gone over to my old apartment after work to help clean before the final inspection, and hadn’t gotten home until 8 pm. Will was out with a friend, and I was going to make myself some kind of sad person meal like Kraft dinner or frozen pizza, but I was like, “I can do better than that!” So I made mac and cheese and garlic fried green beans. And they were delicious.

I know I’ve already posted here about my love of planning, and I think the real issue is that lately I’ve been swinging a wee bit too much into the over planning aspect of my personality. I always mentally mocked people who scheduled down time, but it looks like I might have to be one of them, at least for a little while.

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After all, it only took me fifteen minutes to go from boxes to books, so maybe I should aim for more time snoozing in our comfy navy bed (I even scored an HBC blanket on sale to complete the look!).

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