Category Archives: Memories of Meals Past

Spinach Salad w/ Faro & Roasted Grapes: Memories of Meals Past + Salads I Have Known & Loved MASHUP

Lunchtime at my workplace! Salad, with a side of soup.

Know what time it is? It’s time for a Memories of Meals Past Post! (Also know as a ‘What-I-Ate-And-You-Can-Too’ post.)

As much as I love baked goods, I also like being healthy. As such, I like to balance my sugar/baked good intake with lots of whole grains and veggies. (And fruit, because my sweet tooth has a say even when I’m menu-planning healthily.)

So, that’s whole grains, veggies, and fruit. What can I make with those ingredients? And ideally it has to incorporate salad, since a) healthy and b) salad helps keep my IBS symptoms at bay. Hmm…oooh, ooh, I know!

Spinach Salad with Faro, Caramelized Onions, & Oven-Roasted Grapes! In other words, I took a Martha recipe and modified it slightly (Queen of Substitutions style) and voila! Lunch is served!

How did this recipe come together?

  • I boiled the faro (a type of whole wheat kernel, essentially) with a bunch of dried rosemary (this gave it a lovely flavour)
  • I caramelized the onions in a pan
  • I roasted the grapes (with a bit of salt)
  • I mixed it all together with some baby spinach
  • I added Martha’s vinaigrette
  • I ate it, dear reader. Actually I packed it for lunches for several days, and it was yum.

What did I switch up? I didn’t use concord grapes because it’s the wrong season for that and I’m not going to fork out an arm and a leg for imported concord grapes. Plus, I used spinach because arugula wouldn’t stay fresh once mixed with the vinaigrette. The spinach wilted a little, which was fine by me, as wilted spinach is still considered all foodie, and anyway, Martha’s specified arugula wouldn’t have held up to being packed in a lunch container.

The verdict? Nice. Nicer than the individual ingredients make it sound. But not uber-spectacular. Nice enough to make again? Yeeeees, but the biggest take-away for me from this recipe was that boiling faro with rosemary makes it AWESOME! And slightly chewy and better than rice, both in health benefits and taste. So, up with healthy grains! And salad. Because, really, health is precious. (As is sugar. Cue…*my precioussssss*)

Next Post: Sugary goodness in the form of easy yet delectable Chocolate Chunk Whipped Shortbread? Or Three Ingredient Blue Cheese Pasta? That’s right, it’s time for some carb-y goodness!

Memories of Meals Past: Pack-n-Go Lunch Burritos

Totally not posed. I just plated it and snapped a quick photo before eating. I mean, it was lunchtime! A gal's gotta eat!

Totally not posed. I just plated it and snapped a quick photo before eating. I mean, it was lunchtime! A gal’s gotta eat!

So I was planning on writing a post about growing sprouts from lentils. And then…I realized I had eaten all the lentils in the house when I made my last batch of lentil sprinkles to add to my lunchtime salads. Huh. Ok, well, I am nothing if not the Queen of Substitutions, so I just replaced the lentils with peas! I mean, lentils, peas, same dif yo’! Except not.

Because my pea sprouts did not grow. They grew…and then stagnated. Ugh. I have no patience sometimes, so I didn’t bother to figure out where I went wrong. I just wanted sprouts and when I want my sprouts, I want them now. So I dispatched the DH to the local bulk store to pick up some lentils. I asked for 1/4 c. of dried lentils. He came back with 1/2 c. of dried lentils, because the DH is generous like that. Cost him all of 36 cents. Which means…a double batch of lentil sprouts! Have I mentioned that the DH isn’t into sprouts? Ha ha! Too bad, so sad, because it’s lentil sprouts for everyone!

But not in this post. Because my sprouts are still sprouting, so instead let’s talk lunch!

This here’s a picture of one of my super-yummy lunches from last week. It’s a super-healthy burrito, packed the night before, and quickly assembled for lunchtime consumption.

Why was it so easy to assemble? Because it was all prepped previously!

Les ingredients:

  • Spanish rice n’ beans. I used this recipe, except that I added a whole bunch of white beans for protein. Spanish rice is very forgiving, so just make it up as you go along. It’s basically rice and tomatoes, cooked together with some flavourings like onion and oil, and for those who don’t care about authenticity, taco spice. You know I added taco spice, right? 😉
  • lettuce, chopped
  • cheddar cheese, grated
  • green salsa Or red salsa or guac or whatever you crave. I had green salsa in the fridge so that’s what I used. But I’ve got some avocados ripening on my kitchen counter — they’re next up on the chopping board, because I’m craving some burritos with guacamole now!
  • sour cream This really added to the delicious mouth feel of these burritos.
  • homemade tortillas What? You’ve never made tortillas? But this must be rectified! Use this recipe, it’s super-easy. And if you don’t have time, don’t bother. But if you have time, definitely do it! They taste ah.maze.ing! So pure and fresh and oh, just make them, seriously!

Package in containers, bento-box style (or Tupperware-style, more like) and pop in the fridge. Bring to work and make all your colleagues jelly that they don’t have the fresh, tasty, healthy lunch that you do! Also, the mouth-gasms? Totally worth the work of making the Spanish rice and the tortillas. (Am drooling as I type this, just remembering. Plus, the rice and tortillas are really easy to make. And cheap, incidentally.)

The official taste tester. Or sniff-tester, rather. Because these burritos are mine, all mine!

The official taste tester. Or sniff-tester, rather. Because these burritos are mine, all mine!

In case you were wondering if the burritos were appetizing, I present Exhibit A. The local office cat, checking out my lunch. (FYI, they passed the cat sniff test, and were rapidly consumed by me before said cat could get her paws on them. I gave her a kibble instead, poor kitty.)

Next Post: Ok, so lentil sprouts, for realz! They’ll have grown by them, and been omnomnom’d by me. After being photographed for you, so stay tuned! Mmm…dreaming of crunchy sprouts now. And chocolate, because when am I ever not?

Linking up at Meal Plan Monday!

Memories of Meals Past: Dumplings Two Ways

Served with a nice crisp green salad!

Served with a nice crisp green salad!

Last year I decided to start a Cookbook Supperclub with some friends, and hold dinner parties where we all cooked a dish from the cookbook-du-jour, ending up with a number of appetizers, mains, sides, and of course dessert. We cooked our way through a number of cookbooks before the group dissolved due to well, life and other schedules.

One of the cookbooks was Martha Stewart’s Appetizers book, and one of the appetizers I made was a soup dumpling (albeit veggi-fied, because that’s how I roll). It turned out slightly differently from how it was supposed to, likely because I used agar-agar for the first time instead of gelatin and made it way too weak to be gelatinous. I tramped around the city looking for dumpling wrappers and agar-agar, and while I found the agar-agar in a crunchy-hippie type store (a very cool store, btw) I couldn’t find the dumpling “skins”, and didn’t want to go to literally across the city to a genuine Chinese store to get some.

So I made some. From scratch. *blows on nails and buffs nails on shirt*

I should have started there, because it was sooooo easy! Would have saved me hours. And it’s only a few ingredients! Here’s the recipe I used, albeit just for the dumpling wrappers.

As for the filling, here’s my own creation:

Quick n’ Easy Dumpling Filling

  • 2/3 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 pkg veggie ground round
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1/2-3/4 c. chopped dried mushrooms, rehydrated with 1/2 c. boiling water

Mix all ingredients together. Use 2 tsps. of filling in each dumpling (the dumpling dough recipe makes 34 dumplings, or at least my batch did).

Feel free to add in additional ingredients to make it extra savoury, although I think using actual meat would make it savoury enough for the meat-eaters.

You can freeze the dumplings in single layers for later use, or you can use them right away. I’ve done both and they’re both delicious!

Plate o' dumplings. Excuse me, I'm off to nom.

Plate o’ dumplings. Excuse me, I’m off to nom.

As for the dumpling dip, I came across a recipe in a Buzzfeed article (also where I got my new favourite smoothie recipe, but that’s a post for another time!) and used that. Basically, it’s 2 parts vinegar to one part soy sauce, with grated ginger added in. It’s salty and sweet with a little kick. Puckerlicious!

Ok, so far we have the dumpling skins, the dumpling filling, and the dumpling dip. But…how to actually cook the dumplings? Well, here are three ways:

  1. steam the dumplings – put a tsp. of oil in a frying pan, dab the bottom of the dumplings in the oil and fry until slightly brownish on the bottom. Add in enough oil to just cover the edges of the dumplings, and put a lid on the pan. Steam until thoroughly cooked (i.e. the top of the dumpling is no longer doughy). This is my version of steaming, though. True steaming is when you place the dumplings on a steamer over boiling water. Meh, to each her own!
  2. boil the dumplings – pretty self-explanatory (I made some like this but didn’t photograph it, so you’re out of luck if you wanted to see them!)
  3. fry the dumplings – also pretty self-explanatory. Fry the dumplings in oil on the stove-top until the bottom and sides are crispy and golden brown. Crunchy and yummy!

The verdict? I’d totally make these dumplings again! I might change up the filling to use up whatever I have in the fridge, but the basic filling I outline above would be my starting point. These dumplings are great to serve fried with a green salad, or steamed/boiled for an appetizer or a side dish. If you make some yourself, let me know what filling you use!

Next Post: Either a fancy-pants strawberry cake, or a post about how to make mini Skor cupcakes! Mmm…I do love dessert!

Linking up at Meal Plan Monday!  (And again!)

Memories of Meals Past: Healthier Spring Rolls

Healthy spring rolls! A tad purple, but hey, I can live with that.

Healthy spring rolls! A tad purple, but hey, I can live with that.

Time for another Memories of Meals Past post!

This time it’s a lunch/light dinner food, spring rolls, that I made a few months ago. But made healthier by baking as opposed to deep-frying! I used this recipe as a starting point, and then naturally I made substitutions. I had half a head of purple cabbage in my fridge, so I grated that and added that into the filling, along with some dried mushrooms (albeit not the shiitake kind that the recipe called for).

Pro Tip: Do not use purple cabbage if you want a perfect presentation. Purple cabbage makes everything purple. Your filling, your wrappers, your fingertips. But it is healthy, so if you have it in your fridge, well…waste not, want not!

And these spring rolls were delicious! The DH and I happily crunched on them for dinner and lunches. I do love trying new recipes and…substituting ingredients!

Next Post: I go French with Tarte Tropezienne!

Memories of Meals Past: Arepas, the Venezeulan Answer to Everything Snackish

Nom, nom, nom! And breakfast is served.

Nom, nom, nom! And breakfast is served.

It’s been a while since I did a Memories of Meals Past post, so I thought it was about time. As I’ve mentioned before, the DH is from South America, which brings all sorts of new foods and cooking skills into our household. Take for example, the arepa.

What is the arepa? Well, what isn’t it? One can eat it for breakfast, for lunch, stuffed with a myriad of things for dinner, as an evening snack, and I’ve even eaten it as a post-party food. It’s basically a cornmeal patty, in my opinion, although I’m sure any Venezuelans reading this post will gasp in horror at that quick summation. But I think it is like a cornmeal patty, just often used the way a pita would be used (stuffed, or as a side with a meal). Naturally, as many different uses as there are for an arepa, there are different recipes.

At any rate, I used this recipe, and Pan brand corn meal/flour.

One has to use the right brand of corn meal/flour, and as any Venezuelan knows, Pan is the only brand to use. Any other brand? Inferior. I’m not a big brand label person, and also not a huge arepa-eating person, so I can’t tell the difference, but the DH assures me that there is one.

This recipe isn’t perfect, in that melted butter is listed an ingredient, but one is told in the recipe text when to add it in. Instead the text says to use vegetable oil to grease the pan; I baked on a cookie tray, and used the melted butter to grease it all up nice and slippery. (I feel like I’m an honourary Southerner, just writing that sentence. Tee hee!)

I made half a batch of these arepas (only 4), as they’re not my favourite snack/meal/whatever, much to the disappointment of the DH. I put together a plate for him, pictured above (served with ricotta cheese and a tropical fruit salad), and then did a couple of chores around the house. When I went back to try an arepa…he was eating the very last bite of the very last one. I’ll take that as a compliment!

Do you have a favourite arepa recipe? If so, share it in the comments!

Next Post: More bread for my latest Food Odyssey? Or shall I spring into…Spring with some spritz cookies? Or maybe whip together some baby bunny butt cupcakes that have been percolating in my mind? Only time shall tell! That and my cravings.