Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Portable, Good-For-You Porridge

I am NOT a morning person.  Nuh-uh. My goal in life is to wake up as late as possible and still get to work on time.  So it follows that breakfast is not high on my list of weekday morning priorities.  Sometimes toast, most often nothing at all.  I usually just take a lot of snacks to work, and work through them as the day progresses. But once in a while I remember that I can bring a decent breakfast to work with minimal preparation. Instant oatmeal is an option, but I find most of the brands to be sickeningly sweet. So here is a version of instant oatmeal that you can make yourself - you could even prep several of these on the weekend and leave them in your cupboard to grab on the go.

You'll need a small jar with a lid (a 250 mL canning jar works great), some rolled oats, and whatever dry toppings you like on your oatmeal.

Fill half the jar with the oats, and sprinkle on spices of your choice (I add cinnamon and ginger and sometimes cardamom). Then add your toppings (dried fruit, nuts, flax seeds, coconut, whatever). Now close the jar.

When you get to work, dump the whole thing in a bowl, and measure out about 3/4 jar of water and add it to the bowl.  Microwave for 3 minutes on high.  If you like, you could bring an individual sized yogurt or cut up fresh fruit for the top. Voila!  Instant breakfast with minimal sugar or preservatives!  WIN.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pasta with Tuna and Broccoli

It would appear that posting about my former carb-obsession may have opened the floodgates to more pasta recipes.  Certainly, they've been a go-to thing over the past couple of weeks.  I mean, who has time to cook when there's playoff hockey to be watched? 

So in that vein, I'll present you with another easy and fast pasta recipe that puts most of your favorite food groups in a single bowl. My dad found this recipe several years ago - possibly in Canadian Living Magazine.  You may think it to be a weird combination of flavours, but it works - it really does. And for the boonies cook, it's pretty achievable.  The broccoli can be fresh or frozen, and everything else is canned or dried.

Start by breaking apart a head or two of broccoli and putting the florets in a steamer. Put the water on to boil for the pasta, and put the broccoli on to steam (about 5 minutes once it starts to boil - you want it to retain a bit of crispness).

Mince 3 cloves of garlic and saute them in 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large frying pan until fragrant but not brown. 

Add 2 cans of flaked tuna (drained) to the garlic and stir around. Then add 1 tbsp dried basil (or about 1/4 c. chopped fresh if you have it), and a few shakes of crushed red chili pepper (to taste).

Put about 3/4 c of raisins in a coffee mug.  At this point, your broccoli should be done, so drain the broccoli water directly into the coffee mug to blanch the raisins.  Then add the drained broccoli to the tuna mix and stir. After about a minute, drain the raisins and add those to the broccoli and tuna. 

Toss with the cooked pasta of your choice (I like rotini - it holds on to the tuna better than other pastas), and serve garnished with parmesan cheese. 

Tuna and Broccoli Pasta

2-3 servings of pasta (rotini works well)
1-2 heads broccoli, split into florets
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cans flaked tuna, drained
1 tbsp dried basil
crushed red chili pepper (to taste)
3/4 c. raisins
parmesan cheese

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Ginger and Spice Pancakes

Please tell me that you don't use store mix for pancakes...  Pancakes were a Sunday staple in my house growing up, and we always used this recipe from the Five Roses (1960's version) Cookbook.  While they were my favorite breakfast at home, I could never get used to store mix or restaurant pancakes.  They just tasted fake or something.

Pancakes from scratch really doesn't take much more time than pancakes from a mix.  Mix dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients. Mix the two together.  How hard was that?

1 1/3 c. flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cinammon
1/8 tsp allspice
1 1/4 c. milk
1 egg
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/4 tsp vanilla

Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl with a whisk.

Measure out milk in a 2 c. or larger measuring cup. Add the egg, oil and vanilla and whisk until mixed together (I keep it all in the measuring cup to reduce the number of bowls I get dirty).

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until just mixed (lumpy is ok).

Use a ladle or large spoon to drop by spoonfuls onto a hot griddle. I set the griddle at 320 F, but if you use a frying pan, set it over medium to medium high heat. When the edges start to lose that "wet" look, you can flip them.

Serve with maple syrup and butter. yum.

You can also mix this recipe up a bit: take out the spice and add 1 c mashed bananas for delicious banana pancakes.  Or add 1 c. fresh or frozen blueberries for blueberry pancakes.  Or add 1 tbsp cocoa and 1/2 c. chocolate chips to the dry ingredients for chocolate chip pancakes.

And have a wonderful Sunday!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Pasta and Stuff

Once upon a time, I was a carb-monster. I was 100% invested in the pasta-for-energy camp and probably ate it 4 days a week. I still get a little drooly when I see a ginormous plate of creamy pasta and sauce.  However, we all know now that too many carbs can be bad too, and that carb energy?  short lived and liable to make you bonk afterwards.  So the pasta-monster has had to be tamed a little in favour of lean protein and lots of veggies.

Despite all of this, there are some nights when the only thing that will satisfy is a big bowl of tortellini, and I have a million and one recipes for things to add to it.  Today's recipe is based on one from the Our Best Bites Cookbook. This cookbook is probably the most-used recipe book in my kitchen.  I discovered their blog a couple of years ago, and couldn't resist the book when it came out. Anyway, back to the recipe.  I have a tendency, when I'm feeling too lazy to hit the grocery store, to grab everything I can find in the cupboard and fridge, then search for recipes that might suit what I've got.  The other night, it was canned tomatoes, canned artichokes and ground turkey. The recipe I used as a base was the Tomato Artichoke Tortellini from the book. It's supposed to be vegetarian, but I couldn't let a good package of ground turkey go back in the freezer.

Put some water on to boil for your pasta - I like tortellini for this, but you could use anything.

Start by browning the meat in a large pan. When it's lost all its pink, add 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, minced and stir until it smells all garlicky and delicious.

Add in a can of marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (my artichokes were not marinated, just canned in brine, so I added some oregano and basil and salt and pepper too). Also, add in a can of diced tomatoes, and a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste. Stir the whole lot until it's heated through, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Mix the sauce together with the pasta, and grate some parmesan cheese over the top. Serve!

I love a good one pot meal, and this kind of pasta really does the trick when you need a fast, hearty meal.  Notice that almost everything was canned, and hence, very accessible to the boonies cook! 

Meaty Tomato-Artichoke Pasta
(based on recipe from Our Best Bites)

1 lb ground meat (turkey or other)
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
salt and pepper (and oregano and basil if your artichokes aren't marinated) to taste
Parmesan cheese
1 package frozen tortellini