Worst Blogger Ever…

Yes, that would be me. I am the worst my friends…It’s been a hectic year for me (getting married, moving into my first house, adopting a cat, buying a puppy…) and my blogging has suffered something fierce! But I’m back with a new layout, and probably a few less photos (just to help with the time commitment). Inspired by my friend and colleague Abigail Keeso, over at That Clean Life – I am doing my best to eat a more clean and balanced diet (though I can’t resist baking up something bad every now and then, so don’t worry, the treats will still make an appearance!).

Today I’ve got three quick things for you – a summer BBQ dinner, protein granola bars & refrigerator oatmeal!

The refrigerator oatmeal is quite possibly the most simple thing ever. I am always short on time in the morning, and I would never eat breakfast if it wasn’t pre-prepared. The medic and I both take these for breakfast every workday so I make six (or more!) before the work week starts and boil/peel a bunch of eggs so breakfast is done for the week!

For one serving:

1/3 c oats of choice (I usually use Quaker quick cook which I buy in bulk; but whatever you have on hand will do*)

2/3 c milk of choice (we use almond; but soy, rice, hemp or dairy would work as well)

1/2 medium banana, sliced

1/2 cup other fruit of choice

Any other add-ins you’d like (mini chocolate chips, hemp hearts, ground flaxseed…the possibilities are endless really)

Put all ingredients in a mason jar, and shake well. Refrigerate until ready to use! Yes that is seriously the entire recipe. I initially mixed these up in plastic containers, but mason jars are just so convenient! I use them fore everything now.

Some of our favourite flavor combos: chocolate & nut butter (dark chocolate almond milk + hazelnut butter = NUTELLA oatmeal!), mango & coconut, strawberry & blueberry, apple & cinnamon…the list is endless!

refrigerator oats

*Steel cut oats will likely need extra milk and possibly a longer soaking time…I dunno, I’ve never tried them.

And now for protein granola bars (or cookies if you prefer):

1 c oats of choice (once again, Quaker quick cook for me)

2 thawed bananas, mashed (I freeze super ripe bananas to use in smoothies, muffins & cookies – they look horrible when the thaw but they work great for baking)

20 grams dried goji berries

20 grams unsweetened dried cranberries

30 grams semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I used Manitoba Harvest Hemp Protein)

Preheat oven to 350. Mash bananas in a bowl, then add in the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Let the mixture sit for five or ten minutes to let the oats soak up some of the moisture. If you use fresh bananas instead of thawed you might need to add a bit of some sort of milk to get everything to bind.

Drop the mixture onto a Silpat/parchment lined cookie sheet (or press into a parchment lined 8×8 metal pan) and bake for about 20 minutes. It’s done when the edges start to brown and the chocolate is all melty. Cool on a wire rack until you can handle them and package separately (using plastic wrap or snack size baggies) and freeze until ready for use!

IMG_1347

 

And finally – Naan Veggie Flatbreads!

These were inspired by my friend LeChing over at Maude & Phyllis (her cats are the cutest) and helped along by Abigail’s amazing kale pesto!

4 pre-made Naan flatbreads (or make your own…hm future blog post perhaps?)

1 small yellow zucchini, thinly sliced

8-10 white button mushrooms, thinly sliced

8-10 cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced

120 grams light brine packed feta cheese

Kale pesto (from That Clean Life) – or sub pre-made pesto if you prefer

2 chicken breasts, cooked & sliced (optional)

Place a pizza stone on your BBQ and preheat over medium-high (if you don’t have a BBQ, this can be done just as easily in the oven).

Spread some pesto on each Naan flat bread, and then top with veggies, cheese and chicken (if using). Put each flat bread on the pizza stone until warmed through and the base is crispy. You may have to do these one or two at a time, depending on the size of your pizza stone.

I made mine with just veggies and cheese, and added chicken to the medics. You could go full on vegan with Daiya cheese (or something similar) and vegan Naan (like this perhaps?). Enjoy!

naan flatbread

 

-J.

 

Shrimp Po’ Boys on French Bread

Well here it is friends, my inagural post! I’m excited to get started, and there are so many recipes I’d like to share without having to make them again and do the whole picture thing (cookie-dough stuffed cupcakes, I’m looking at you), but I’m restraining myself because I feel like food blogs *need* pictures! So here is how to make french bread and Cajun shrimp Po’ Boys with smokey caramelized onion mayo & avocado salsa. Apologies in advance for the horrible quality iPhone photos…Original recipes will be linked at the bottom of the post:

French Bread:

I only recently discovered the joy of making my own bread and buns. There’s just something so satisfying and zen about starting with a few ingredients and pulling bread out of the oven! And it’s way easier than you’d think, promise!

Ingredients:

2.5c warm water (it should feel like a warm bath, not too hot! – 100-110F)

2T active yeast

2T sugar

1t salt

3T olive oil

3c wheat flour & 3c white flour; blended – you can do all white or all wheat (all wheat will make a denser bread)

If you have a stand mixer, I highly recommend using it when making dough (mostly because I’m too lazy for all that kneading). In the absence of a stand mixer, use a large bowl and a wooden spoon, kneading by hand as the dough begins to come together.

Pour the water into your stand mixer/bowl and then evenly sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the water and stir until the yeast is dissolved-ish (mine went all clumpy at first but a little mixing dissolved it all nicely). It will look like this:

yeast and water

Now you let it sit for ten minutes to activate the yeast (at this point, your kitchen will start to smell like beer…that’s a good sign). Properly activated yeast will make your mixture all foamy and weird (it was at this point that I googled a photo of what it should look like because I had no clue). If it’s not foamy then something went wrong (either your water was too hot or your yeast is old and dead). It should look gross like this:

IMG_0393

Now you dump in your oil & salt, put your dough hook on your mixer and start adding in your flour about a half cup at a time. Mix on the lowest speed unless you’d like to wear your flour (not cool).

mixing

When the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl, you’re almost done (yay!). You may need more or less flour, when the dough pulls away and is sticky but handle-able, that’s enough.

IMG_0395

Your dough should still be sticky at this point. Dump it out onto a well floured surface (aka your countertop…this is where shit gets messy), flour your hands and knead for a few minutes before shaping into a ball. Put your ball into a big bowl (seriously guys, a really big one…dough can get huge when it proofs).

IMG_0397

Cover with plastic wrap, leaving a couple little gaps in the edges; then cover with a damp kitchen towel. Turn the light on in your oven and put your covered bowl in the oven for 30-45 minutes (turning on the light warms your oven up just a tiny bit, helping proof the dough). If you’re impatient like me, you can preheat the oven for a few minutes so that it’s nice and toasty before putting your dough in (this will cut your proofing time in about half). Your dough should almost double in size by the time you’re done proofing:

IMG_0409

Personal preference here (or trial and error) – the original recipe called for you to divide and bake now, but traditional baking says  you should punch down the dough and re-cover, repeating the proofing process. I did two rises this time, it’s up to you (if you have the time, I’d go for it, otherwise move on). Divide the dough into two equal-ish chunks (these loaves are *HUGE*…probably could do three loaves). Shape into loaves (the original recipe says to “tuck the ends under like a jellyroll”…WTF does that mean? I made them loaf shaped…good enough). Score the tops on the diagonal with a knife and turn your oven on to 375F, let the bread rest while you wait for the oven to warm:

IMG_0412

Once your oven is at temperature, pop your bread in on the middle rack and on the bottom rack, put a pie plate (or other oven-safe bowl shaped object) with 2 cups of ice. The steam from the melting ice and water will help you get the nice crusty outside French bread always has. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until they are brown and crusty.

Optional: At the 30 minute mark, take your loaves out and lightly brush the tops with melted butter – this helps get the tops extra crunchy and brown!

IMG_0422

Adapted from: http://keephomesimple.blogspot.ca/2010/05/quick-french-bread.html

Smokey Caramelized Onion Mayo:

2 medium yellow onions, peeled and sliced
1t sugar
1.25t liquid smoke (you can find it near the Tabasco in a lot of grocery stores)
1.25c mayo (I used light olive oil based…but use what you have)
½T canola oil
1t Worcestershire sauce
1/4t ground coriander
½t Louisiana-style hot sauce (e.g. Tabasco)

Warm the oil in a sauce pan on low as you slice up your onions. When the oil is warm, drop your onions into the pan:

IMG_0398

Stir them around and add in the sugar and liquid smoke (the original recipe called for you to actually smoke the onion on the bbq…far too much effort for me). Cook on low until the onions are nice and browned, 20-25 minutes (I know, it’s a crazy long time, but *please* resist the temptation to turn up the heat, otherwise you’ll just end up with burnt onions).

IMG_0405

Let the onions cool for a little bit (warm but not scalding), then add them to a food processor. Add in the mayo, Worcestershire, coriander and hot sauce. Original recipe called for Crystal hot sauce…I don’t know what that is so I planned to sub in Tabasco…I didn’t have Tabasco either (::facepalm::) so I went with Buffalo wing sauce that was in the fridge (close enough, right?).

IMG_0406

Blend the crap out of it until it’s relatively smooth and you’re done! Mine’s still got a few onion bits in it but good enough (let’s call it “rustic”):

IMG_0408

Tomato and Cajun Avocado Salsa:

Cajun seasoning (enough to coat your avocado…1/4c-ish)

1 ripe tomato, diced

2 ripe avocados, sliced

1/4c finely chopped red onion

2.5T apple cider vinegar

canola oil (enough to coat your pan a tablespoon or two)

Coat your sliced avocados with Cajun seasoning on both sides:

IMG_0413

Heat enough oil to coat the bottom of a frying pan over medium-low heat (olive oil has a lower smoke point so isn’t as good for frying stuff…if that’s all you’ve got then use it, just watch your temperature and keep the fan on!). When the oil starts to shimmer (seriously, it should look like it’s rippling gently), it’s ready. Fry the avocado slices for 2-3 minutes each side, working in batches if your pan isn’t big enough (like mine) for all the slices at once:

IMG_0414

The original recipe said they should be blackened…mine refused to blacken. Maybe because it called for Creole seasoning and I used Cajun? I don’t know…I ended up with toasty crisp-ish avocado slices. Another one of those “close enough” moments (I have a lot of those):

IMG_0417

Dice the cooked avocado and combine it with the apple cider vinegar, diced tomato and chopped onion and you have salsa! The original recipe says it’s relish…looks like salsa to me so salsa it is:

IMG_0419

Shrimp (the absolute easiest part of this whole damn thing):

1-2lb peeled, deveined shrimp

1-2T Cajun seasoning

1T olive oil

Drop your shrimp into a Ziploc bag and add in the oil and Cajun seasoning (feel free to just eyeball the amounts or toss in whatever looks good to you…I didn’t measure, this is just approximate).

IMG_0420

Seal the bag and shake the hell out of it. Add more seasoning if you need it, then put it in the fridge ’til you’re ready to cook the shrimp (about 10 minutes before serving).

IMG_0421

Heat your BBQ to medium-ish and skewer the shrimp. Or for the lazy man option (my preferred way): dump the shrimp onto a grill pan on the BBQ. You can also cook them in a skillet on the stove, totally your call. Cook for 2-4 minutes on each side, until pink and cooked through (when they’re totally pink, they’re cooked through – feel free to find a meat thermometer and figure out at what temperature shrimp is considered done…I like to live on the wild side though haha)

IMG_0426

To assemble a sandwich, split the French bread into sandwich-sized portions and then split lengthwise. Hollow out the bread a little, so you can pack more of the good stuff into your sandwich:

IMG_0425

Top with some of the smokey onion mayo, some lettuce (I used a spinach/arugula mix), 4-6 shrimp and some of the salsa. And you have a Shrimp ‘Po Boy on Homemade French Bread!

IMG_0428

Adapted from: http://www.menshealth.com/guy-gourmet/serve-shrimp-po-boys-super-bowl

Feedback would be lovely my friends! Too many pictures? Not enough? Need more explanation? Do I ramble too much? Comment and let me know!

– J.