Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

Most of my food making is borne out of  – “What do I do with these leftover mashed potatoes? Oh Google says make shepherd’s pie. Ok, I can do that. Wait. I need cream but only half a cup. Hmm I guess I could make cupcakes or something with that. Oh damn. I have like waaay too much butter. Brownies?”

And the cycle keeps going. AND GOING.

This used to stress me out when I first started cooking different things that weren’t the staple, chicken curry, channa masala, Indian based dishes my Mom taught me to survive my undergrad in Canada. But now each week is an adventure because I’m improvising from what I cooked the week before and I’m not going to lie – even for a type-A, control-a-holic like me – it’s kind of exciting.

A couple of weeks ago I made lasagna, which was ok-ok (hence me not-posting it), and was left with half a hunk of Parmesan cheese. I don’t really eat that much cheese because I believe it makes me retain water and makes me breakout. But it’s expensive man. So I couldn’t throw it away.

This time Google didn’t help, instead it was a fresh caesar salad at the bistro/bar Overeasy that left me wanting more.

What makes this salad awesome is clearly the dressing and this particular rendition doesn’t have eggs or mayo. Yaay!

I also made the croutons from scratch and cooked up some shrimp. Because I’m fancy like that. If you want chicken instead – go ahead you pleb.

Caesar Salad

Dressing
4 whole anchovy fillets (If you want it more pungent, add more anchovies)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
1/2 whole lemon, juiced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 dash salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Croutons
Half a loaf of sourdough bread, cubed
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
few twists of pepper
pinch of garlic salt (optional)

Protein Accompaniment
Precooked shrimp, as much as you want
2 Tbsps oil
Minced garlic, 2-4 cloves, depending on amount of shrimp
Lemon juice, depending on amount of shrimp
Pinch of salt

Salad
Romaine salad leaves, as much as you want
Parmesan, shaved/grated, as much as you want

Dressing
Using a small food processor blender, blend together the anchovies, Dijon mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire, garlic and lemon juice.

Add olive oil to the mixture and blend. Add the Parmesan, salt and black pepper. Blend until thoroughly combined.

Refrigerate the dressing for a few hours before using it on the salad.

Croutons
Preheat the oven to 175C/350C.

Throw the cubed bread on a baking sheet.

Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan for 3 minutes or so. Add the salt, pepper and garlic salt.

Drizzle oil over the bread and mix with your hands so that the bread is evenly coated with the oil mixture.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes till golden brown.

Protein Accompaniment
Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.

Add the minced garlic and shrimp – at the same time. (It will be fine I promise)

Cook till shrimp is done, it should be opaque and bit brown.

Add lemon juice at the last minute and a pinch of salt. Remove from heat.

Salad
Chop, wash and dry the romaine salad leaves.

Drizzle some dressing on the salad leaves. I can’t tell you how much because I don’t know how much salad you’re eating.

Throw in a good handful of the Parmesan cheese that you’ve shaved/grated.

Toss! See if you need more dressing, toss again.

Add the croutons and protein accompaniment.

EAT.

*Recipe adapted from Ree Drummond.

Raspberry Crumb Bars

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Guys it is time that I got serious about this blogging bizness. I like bought this domain for $18 a year. I don’t know about you but to me, that’s an investment. I mean instead of having my very own .com I could have bought 4 normal/ 2 over-priced sandwiches. Or half a dress!

But instead I’m choosing to fill a creative void in my life by maintaining this blog and entertaining people.

But am I really entertaining people? While I think I’m brilliant, my follower numbers and page views don’t seem to support that. My theory is my pictures suck. Wait no, they REALLY suck.

So this time I actually took these bars and cut of the edges and photographed them properly.

Side shot of the precariously balanced bars. I took me three tries to stack these so they didn't fall down.
Side shot of the precariously balanced bars. I took me three tries to stack these so they didn’t fall down.

These bars are dessert and breakfast worthy. Thankfully they also fall somewhere in the middle of healthy (oats) and unhealthy (butter).

The crumble mixture is nice and rich thanks to the butter and the sweet and tart raspberry jam balances it out nicely. Use decent quality jam. It’s really the key ingredient here.

This is what I call the sexy close up. Note the oozing jam and artful crumble. You almost can't see the side bits where the foil is stuck to the bar.
This is what I call the sexy close up. Note the oozing jam and artful crumble. You almost can’t see the side bits where the foil is stuck to the bar.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 175C/350F.

Line an 8 by 8 inch baking dish with aluminum foil. Grease foil.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.

Stir in oats and brown sugar. Add butter, and using fingertips, work butter into mixture until evenly distributed.

Add 1 1/2 cups of the oat mixture to the prepared baking dish and press into an even layer.

Spread raspberry jam into an even layer over oat layer. If you spread it to the edge, like I did, it will stick to the foil. If you don’t want that to happen, please follow the original recipe which advises you to keep the edge jam free for 1/4 inch.

Sprinkle top evenly with remaining oat mixture, then slightly press into jam layer.

Bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before cutting into squares.

Man I need to wash my dishtowels more often.
Man I need to wash my dishtowels more often.

*Recipe from Cooking Classy.

Spicy and Sweet Soba Noodles & Sushi Salad

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This is so much tastier than it looks. I promise.

This week’s Recipe Challenge was making two Japanese inspired recipes that fit nicely into my protein/carb/salad dinners. I found both recipes from A Beautiful Mess – a blog which is ANYTHING but – but somehow manages to be even more charming because of its name.

So here we go!

Sweet and Spicy Soba Noodles (Surprisingly complex)
serves 4

1 pkt soba noodles
1 pkt cooked shrimp
1 red bell pepper
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon ground ginger (1 knob of ginger bashed)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2-3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Cook soba noodles in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Slice up the red pepper. Cook with a tablespoon of olive oil just until the peppers start to soften. Then, add the cooked shrimp and noodles to the pan and turn the heat down to low.

In a bowl mix the honey, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, red pepper flakes and minced garlic.

Pour over the noodles, shrimp, and peppers. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes until the liquid has reduced some. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions.

Sushi Salad (Has a real kick to it)
Serves you

Salad
Lettuce (any kind)
1/2 an avocado,
sesame seeds
seaweed sheets (tear with your hands)

Dressing
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 Tbsp chili sauce
Squirt wasabi sauce (can get tubes of it in Fairprice Finest/Cold Storage)
1 Tbsp mayo

In the bottom of the bowl you plan to eat your salad in mix the lemon juice, mayo, chili sauce and wasabi sauce.

Chop and wash the lettuce and put it into the original bowl along with 1 or 2 seaweed sheets.

Top with sesame seeds.

MIX!

Eat.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Banana Cake

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This cake has gotten a lot of love in my house. The whole thing basically disappeared over the course of a few days.

That doesn’t always happen.

I think it’s obviously because I am now a baking genius.

Or it could be the peanut butter and chocolate.

Nah. It’s probably me.

*Recipe from Averie Cooks. You want to check her version out. Her photos are stunning.

Thai Inspired Salad with Peanut Butter Based Dressing

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You know what I love about salads? They make you feel super healthy while you’re eating them and after when your body is all “THANK YOU for feeding me good things I reward you with clearish skin and a happy tummy (I almost got specific there and then didn’t)”.

What I love about making salads at home is that you can decide if you want more/less meat, carrots, whatever. So that’s why I haven’t specified amounts for the salad ingredients. I swear you can really change it up because the dressing ties pretty much anything together.

The dressing is enough for maybe two servings so feel free to multiply for more!

Dressing
2 Tbsps creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsps honey
2 Tbsps soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice (about 3 small limes)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small knob of ginger, minced
1 Tbsp chili sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

Salad
Quinoa (prepared like this)
Carrot(s), cut into matchsticks
Beansprouts, washed and drained
Cucumber(s), peeled and diced
Red onions, diced OR green onions, chopped
Dry roasted peanuts, chopped
Fresh cilantro, long stems removed for topping
Optional add-ins: cooked chicken, pork, shrimp or tofu

Combine all dressing ingredients in a blender and puree until emulsified, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

To assemble salad mix all ingredients together and toss with dressing.

Serve.

*Adapted from Cooking Classy.

Pumpkin Chocolate Squares

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I made this last night in like 25 minutes. That includes the prep and baking. And it’s tastiness was extremely unexpected because it was such a half assed attempt to use up my leftover pumpkin. I’m so excited that I couldn’t wait to share and took a picture of it on plastic wrap next to my office phone…

Bad food blogging decisions aside it’s probably the tastiest baked good I’ve made this year. It’s a cross between a bread and a blondie and its suuuuuper moist. And there’s chocolate.

I KNOW – I have to make a vegetable soon. My pants will also thank me. But for now make this coz dayamn.

1/2 cup flour (any kind)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Pinch of nutmeg (I bought the actual nutmeg fruit and grated it. It smells bananas good almost so that its kinda gross)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1 egg
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (or cooked, pureed pumpkin)
2 tablespoons milk (any kind)
2 tablespoons coconut oil (other oil can be used)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ heaped cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 180C/350F.

In one bowl combine flour, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In another bowl whisk together the egg, sugar, pumpkin, milk, oil, and vanilla until smooth.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until well combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Spread the mixture into a greased 9×5 inch loaf pan. Bake for 15-18 minutes.

**Adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie and Handle the Heat.

Pumpkin Banana Bread

I’ve been eating this all day, err day.

pumpkin bread

Actually I’ve been eating this for breakfast. Occasionally.

BUT! It’s really quite good and the texture is fantastic. This bread came to be because I bought a tin of canned pumpkin and a jar of pumpkin spice. I made a pumpkin latte and then stared at both ingredients and realized I had made a fatal error in judgment and was not going to be able to finish either. Ever.

I also realized I had greek yogurt in the fridge because I had been on a smoothie making frenzy over the weekend and decided I needed to use that up. And all the bananas I froze for the smoothie making frenzy. I found this bread online and voila!

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 bananas
2 eggs
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 175 degrees celcius.

Mix the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin spice in a bowl.

Whisk the brown sugar, pumpkin puree, bananas, eggs, yogurt and vanilla extract in another large bowl. Mash the bananas separately, first.

Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

Pour the mixture into a greased 9×5 inch loaf pan. Bake for 55 minutes.

Toothpick/knife will have a bit of gunk on it but its fine.

*This bread isn’t very sweet so I like to spoon a tsp of maple syrup on it and let it soak in before eating.
**Adapted from Closet Cooking.