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Archive for October, 2008

In just about the 2 weeks, I have reached my goal weight…10lbs less than when I started. And it stays off (as long as I don’t go wild with the carbs! – carbs are my arch enemy!) I am going to continue the crazy diet during the week, but the weekend is free (that means I am back to drinking again! – after being dry for the entire 2 weeks). We’re heading off to Paul and T’s next weekend, so I have to build my endurance again!

My brother was asking for a great corn bread recipe, so here is one (not on the diet, of course, but really really tastey!)

Fred’s Not Here (restaurant in the big smoke) Jalapeno Corn Bread

  • 1 1/4 cups medium ground cornmeal
  • 1 1/4 cups  flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup diced fresh jalapeno peppers (or a couple of tbsp of dried chili peppers)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  1. Pre heat cast iron molds in 375F oven. Coat with oil.
  2. Sift cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  3. Blend eggs, milk and vegetable oil. Stir into dry ingredients.
  4. Fold in jalapeno peppers and cheese.
  5. Spoon batter into molds (it is a relatively thick batter, so you will need to spread into the mold).
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, but it will depend on the size of the mold. You may also bake it in a 10″ cast iron frying pan and cut the cornbread into wedges (really rustic look). I prefer to use my corn and cactus molds!! of course, you do, as JT would say!!!)

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On this diet, I’m allowed 3.5oz dried (100g) Navy Beans (instead of a protein), so tonight I am making navy bean and wild mushroom risotto (minus the Parmesan cheese, of course!). I’m glad I made enough for my lunch tomorrow, it was SOOOOO good!!!!!

  • 10.5oz dried navy beans rehydrate in water as per directions on package.
  • a good handful dried wild mushrooms (I like to use the dried, because you will use the hydrating liquid as stock for the “risotto”)
  • 4 cups water (to make the mushroom “stock”)
  • 3 cups of low sodium chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 1 vidalia onion medium chop
  • 3 cloves finely minced garlic
  • 3-5 sage leaves finely sliced (chiffonade)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Couple of squirts of Pam
  • 1 green onion finely chopped for garnish
  1. The night before, place beans in a large bowl and fill with water (as per directions).
  2. The morning of the meal, place the handful of mushrooms into a large Pyrex measuring cup (4+ cups) and fill with warm water. Allow to sit all day hydrating (make sure you cover tightly with cello, otherwise your place will smell of mushrooms).

To make the meal

  1. Drain the mushrooms through a very fine sieve (I use a yogurt cheese maker to do this). Reserve the liquid. Rinse the mushrooms as they may be sandy!
  2. Drain and rinse the beans.
  3. In a large cast enamelled dutch oven, spray a couple squirts of Pam and begin sweating the onions (you may need to add a bit of the mushroom stock to do this).
  4. When the onions have turned translucent, add the rinsed beans and stir thoroughly.
  5. Add all of the mushroom stock, and the low sodium chicken stock (don’t add the mushrooms yet). Add the sage.
  6. Cook covered on med-high heat for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally (add more stock if it has been completely absorbed). As the stock is absorbed into the beans, the beans will cook to a creamy consistency, leaving some beans whole. Just at the end, add the mushrooms.
  7. To finish, you may wish to add a pat of unsalted butter (but not I) and a dash of cognac – as these flavours are wonderful with mushrooms.
  8. Garnish with finely chopped green onions or cheese.
  9. Enjoy!

You can add sausage, cooked chicken or any type of meat you like. Or make a mock Cassoulet, and add some torn duck confit pieces!!!

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As I mentioned in a previous post, this diet I am on is extremely strict; there are forbidden foods (such as beets, kale, carrots, peas, yellow beans, corn, etc – mostly because they are high in sugar!). But I am allowed red cabbage – a fantastic fall vegetable. I have taken an old recipe and turned it healthy, but really really yummy!

  • 1/2 purple cabbage, finely sliced
  • 3/4 Vidalia onion, finely sliced
  • 1 Golden Delicious (or Jonagold) apple, grated
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1-4 drops of liquid smoke (this is to give the impression of bacon (I cannot have bacon now!)
  • about 1 cup water or low sodium chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 14″ square parchment paper
  1. Preheat oven to 500F.
  2. In a hot, heavy cast iron dutch oven, spray a couple of squirts of Pam into bottom (or if your not being good, then render about 5 slices of Pancetta finely chopped and once crisp, remove). Add onions and sauté until soft (4-5 minutes). If the pan is getting dry, add a bit of water (not too much, you don’t want the onions steaming, just so they don’t burn).
  3. Add apples and sauté about a minute longer. If dry, add water (or low sodium chicken stock).
  4. Add purple cabbage and sauté for another couple of minutes – stirring well. If dry, add water (or low sodium chicken stock). If you’re being bad, add the pancetta back to the pan and stir well.
  5. Take the parchment paper and fold into quarters, and again. Cut 1/2 the diameter of the pot in a circular form. Cut about 1/2″ out of the centre. Now when you open the parchment, it should be a circle with a hole in the centre!
  6. Take the cabbage off the heat. Put the parchment circle into the pan directly on top of the cabbage so that it is covered (with the exception of the hole in the centre). Put the pan into the oven and braise for about 1 hour. Stir every 15-20 minutes. You may need to add a bit of water throughout, so keep an eye on it, particularly near the end.

Cider Vinegar Dressing

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped Vidalia onion
  • 2 tsp cider vinegar
  • about 1 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1-2 drops of smoke (to simulate the flavour of bacon!)
  1. In a small 2 cup saucepan, begin sauté-ing the onion in a couple of squirts of Pam.
  2. Use small amounts of chicken stock to help the caramelization of the onions (remember, you don’t want to steam them).
  3. Add the cider vinegar and about 1/4 cup of the chicken stock.
  4. Reduce until there is virtually no liquid remaining.
  5. Remove from heat and add about 1/2 cup of the chicken stock. The caramelization process should have made the onions a golden caramel colour.
  6. Set aside.

Seared Scallops

  • 5-6 oz of scallops per person. Our’s were about 2oz each!!)
  1. When the cabbage has about 15 minutes left to braise, remove scallops from fridge and dry thoroughly (very important to be able to get that beautiful “sear” on them!)
  2. Remove the tough mussel on the side (this is that little bit on the side that looks like it’s added on – should come off very easily, discard).
  3. Heat cast iron skillet until very hot.
  4. Spray a couple of squirts of Pam.
  5. Add very dry scallops and sear about 2 minutes per side.

Serving

  1. Place a generous amount of braised cabbage onto the centre of the plate (I prefer white).
  2. Add 2-3 seared scallops into the centre of each cabbage mound.
  3. Drizzle with the warm cider vinegar dressing.

Enjoy!

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A little of this, a little of that!

This is a delicious low-cal main course (low-fat, low-sodium but high in taste)! I’ve had to go back on my strict diet because we’ve not been going regularly to the club over the summer and I’ve packed on about 7lbs (it doesn’t seem like much, but I just don’t want it to creep on since I worked so hard to lose 25 in the first place!). I’m doing great, my first week down 4lbs!!!

So, we made this meal and it turned out very well. The green of the cilantro stays so bright and beautiful…largely due to the lime juice. You can flavour with a touch of sugar, to cut the lime, but I wasn’t allowed to, and it still tasted great!

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, stems removed and washed
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic (finely chopped or on a micro plane)
  • 1 tsp ginger (finely chopped or on a micro plane)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp green curry paste
  • 1/4 cup of finely chopped green onion
  • Salt and Pepper to taste (I couldn’t, but you sure can!)
  • 3.5 oz skinless, boneless chicken breast per person (if you’re not on this ridiculous diet, then up it to 5-6oz as JT did).
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. In an immersion blender container, put all of the ingredients except the chicken. Blend feverishly until almost smooth (you can leave chunky).
  3. Dry chicken breasts and score in about a 3/4″ grid on smooth side (this allows the cooking marinade to penetrate).
  4. Lightly spray an oven-proof dish with Pam. Place chicken in smooth side up (this is where the skin used to be).
  5. Pour cooking marinade over and rub into the chicken so that the score marks are also saturated within.
  6. Bake uncovered at 375F for about 30-40 minutes, or until juices run clear (it depends on how thick the breasts are).
  7. Serve over steamed vegetables or stir fried vegetables…only your favorites, of course!
    While baking chicken, steam or stir fry some of your favourite vegetables in a touch of oil (or Pam). Sprinkle with about 1 tsp of 5 Chinese Spice (really warm flavours)

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The original recipe is from the LCBO Magazine, October 2008 (not yet on line!) – this one is JT’s version. I was surprised with a lovely dinner of Poached Pear with Stilton, Walnuts, Dates and Bacon last night. YUM.
Serves 2 for dinner.


Poaching Liquid

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (use the same wine you will serve with dinner!)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar (if pears are sweet, no need to add a lot of sugar!)
  • 1/8 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 pear (1/2 each serving)

Dressing

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 slices bacon slided into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 3 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 medium shallot diced finely

Salad

  • 6 dates, pitted and chopped coarsly
  • 1/4 cup Stilton, crumbled into medium sized bits
  • 4 cups mixed flavourful greens (arugula, endive, radicchio, escarole)
  • 1/8 cup chopped nuts
  1. In a large saucepan, bring water, wine and sugar to a boil.
  2. Peel and core the pear, slice in half.
  3. Place the pears cut side down into the poaching liquid and cover and simmer for about 25 minutes or until knife tender.
  4. Remove from poaching liquid and set pears aside to cool.
  5. In a large non-reactive sauté pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil and add bacon and sauté until crisp. Remove bacon and drain off excess oil. Add another tsp of olive oil and toast walnuts until crispy. Remove from pan and drain on paper towel.
  6. Add another tsp of olive oil to same sauté pan (no need to wash) and sauté shallots until tender.
  7. Add balsamic vinegar and warm. Add dijon to emulsify the pan juices and the balsamic and keep warm.
  8. Lay a bed of greens on a simple white plate. Place the pears just off centre and crumble the stilton into the core area and allow to cascade off the pear to the greens. Evenly distribute the bacon, dates and walnuts on each plate of greens. Pour 1/2 the warm dressing over each of the salads (this will wilt the greens. Try to avoid the cheese so it won’t melt!)
  9. Salt and Pepper to taste
  10. Enjoy!

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JT and I decided to head downtown to Nuit Blanche on Saturday night. It was wild! Apparently a million people showed up! The sidewalks were packed – it was so cool! We planned out trip to take in Zone A – too bad it’s on for only one night, it would have been fun to check out the other zones. We TTC’d it down to City Hall and walked up to Bloor street, taking in as many installations as we could along the way – about 3-4 km. The night was gorgeous! Great temperature for walking.

Credit: All photos from Nuit Blanche website.

Our first stop was City Hall where we watched Blinkenlights this German company transformed our city hall windows into a giant screen where they played with the lights in each window to create art. It was way cool. Check out the video.


Our next stop was Into the Blue at the Eaton Centre…way weird in a cool kinda way. It is literally rings of rubber filled with air and suspended from the ceiling. You walk under it and look up.

We found Four Sisters, 2008 a very large time lapsed video taken of the Gardiner Expressway. Check out the video

Our next stop was Time Piece 2008 which shows the 27 phases of the moon in fast video. It loops really quickly. The screen was huge so you really got to see amazing details in the moon.

We then ventured further north to Collage and Universtity to see Waterfall, 2008. This is a really interesting installation quilt made of recycled plastic. It was supposed to have a waterfall effect, but I didn’t see it. It might have been better if it was lit differently, perhaps with moving lights to simulate water falling.

Along the way, we came across Sound Forest, 2008 bunch of darkly dressed people walking around making weird humming sounds. We didn’t stay long.

We culminated our journey at the Roof Top Lounge at the Park Hyatt hotel, each with a lovely $14 glass of wine!!! Then we hopped on the subway and went home (around midnight!). It was quite a fun evening!

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For the last couple of years we’ve been celebrating Thanksgiving (Oct 13th) at my brother’s cottage and this year is shaping up for the same! My brother likes to cook, so I don’t generally cook up there, but I do bring up my goodies.

Gus, Wendy and JT will be playing golf on Sunday morning (just 9 holes) so I’ll be looking after the kids. I’ll need to look after lunch, I am planning on home made personalized pizza (so each kid can roll-out their own dough and put toppings of their choice on the pizza!) and a really really cute dessert of Ice Cream Cone cakes. Here is a photo from Metro‘s recipe site, but their’s uses a mix cake, and I plan on making my own batter! I’ll eventually replace this shot when I make the cakes!

I thought it would be fun to have the kids decorate their own cakes…gives us something to do while the other kids golf! I am going to make Nigella’s Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake Recipe for this one, and because it’s the cottage, I’ll probably just buy some frosting and bring some decorations from the bulk food store!

Here is a list of goodies I am planning on bringing up:

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