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Mom's Jeweled Moroccan Rice

Photograph: Suat Eman

Potlucks for the win. My friends love to throw a cheap girls night with a smorgasbord of delicious food, and this rice dish trumps potato salad and tortilla chips every time. It makes a statement at a sit down dinner as well, complementing everything from grilled fish to sweet roasted meats, to salads to your favorite white wine. Personally, I love it on its own, or even, gasp, for breakfast: the fruity sweet kick of the dried fruit plus the satisfying feeling of hot rice does it for me every time. Try it out on your friends: it's so pretty, they'll never guess how easy it was.

Serves 4

4 cups cooked rice (your favorite kind. Certain rices will turn out a much chewier dish (hear me rice-for-breakfast lovers), while others will result in drier, more dinner appropriate dishes. Really, it's just a good excuse to try this dish several times :) Of course, consistency will also vary according to how much water you cook your rice in)

1tbsp olive oil

1 cup dried fruit (apricots, raisins, dates...dried cranberries make a great tart addition as well)

.5 tsp cinnamon (because it's so good for you, throw in a little extra if you love cinnamon as much as I do)

.5tsp ginger

.5tsp cumin

.5tsp salt

slivered almonds toasted

optional: garnish with toasted coconut

  • cut fruit to size of raisins
  • soak all fruits in hot water
  • in a non stick frying pan, sautee rice in oil
  • add spices, stir well
  • add fruit and .25cup of fruit water
  • warm through
  • stir in toasted almonds
  • garnish with coconut if desired

Serve however you like, hot, cold, or somewhere in the middle

Healthy Stuffed Eggplant

There are so many recipes that I'm finding online that I just can't wait to try, and this one is surely one of them!

Eggplants were never my favorite vegetables, but once in a while I don't mind eating them cooked or in purée form.

(source: http://operagirlcooks.com/2010/07/22/stuffed-eggplant-recipe/)

Ingredients (serves 4)
- 1 medium-sized eggplant (about 7″ long and 5″ in diameter)
- 1/4 C. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 small (4 oz) zucchini, diced
- 1 medium yellow pepper, diced
- 1 C. cooked short-grain brown rice
- 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. Italian Herb Garlic Gold Nuggets
- 1 small (1 oz) slice whole wheat sourdough bread, processed into breadcrumbs
- 1 oz (1/4 C.) grated parmesan cheese

1. Halve the eggplant, then scoop out the insides with a melon baller or tablespoon, leaving 1/4″ of flesh. Place hollowed out halves in a 9″ square baking dish and set aside.
2. Coarsely chop the eggplant flesh.
3. In a large (12″) non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium flame. Add the onions, and cook until translucent and softened.
4. Add the eggplant and salt to the skillet, cooking until eggplant softens and is no longer opaque.
5. Add the zucchini and diced pepper to the skillet, cooking until softened.
6. Transfer sauteed vegetables to a medium mixing bowl, then add the brown rice, vinegar, and Garlic Gold nuggets. Stir until everything is combined.
7. Preheat oven to 400F.
8. In a small bowl, mix the sourdough breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese together.
9. Scoop the vegetable mixture into the eggplant halves, then top them with the breadcrumbs and cheese, patting it down to form an even crust. Bake for 25 minutes.
Nutritional Information
Serving size: 1/2 an eggplant half Calories: 318 Fat: 17g Sodium 307.9mg Carbs: 37g Fiber: 6.3g Protein: 7.6g

Table of Condiments That Periodically Go Bad

I just stumbled upon this, great to keep on your fridge!! haha
(source: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2ofkxG/backtable.org/%257Eblade/fnord/condiments.html)

Grilled Chicken with Lemon Basil Pasta

I just stumbled upon this recipe. It seems like it's somewhat a long preparation, but the outcome looks delish! Again, haven't tried it yet. Perhaps something I'll try when I move into my new home! :)
(source: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/07/grilled-chicken-with-lemon-basil-pasta/)


  • 4 whole Grilled Chicken Breasts, Sliced
  • 1 pound Penne Pasta, Cooked Until Al Dente
  • ½ sticks Butter
  • 3 whole Lemons, Juiced
  • ¾ cups Heavy Cream
  • ¼ cups Half-and-half
  • 1-½ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese (or Romano)
  • Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
  • 20 whole Basil Leaves, Chopped

Preparation Instructions

Cook pasta, reserving 1 cup of hot pasta water when you drain. Set pasta aside in a colander.
In the same pot, melt butter over medium heat. Squeeze in the juice of 3 to 4 lemons. Whisk together. Pour in cream and half-and-heat. Whisk until hot. Dump in cheese and whisk until melted. Add salt and pepper. Check consistency, adding some of the hot pasta water to loosen the sauce if needed.
Pour pasta and sauce into a large serving bowl. Sprinkle remaining basil all over the top, then add sliced chicken breasts. Serve immediately!

Alternative: For our vegetarian Amanda, perhaps some grilled tofu or shrimp would be a good replacement to the chicken! 

Pairing Wine with Thai Food

Amanda and I are both big fans of Thai Food (as I'm sure Beth is as well, always finding herself at Santé Restaurant). Although I always end up going to bottom-hole places like Bangkok in Montreal or random places in the Ottawa Chinatown, sometimes a high class Thai restaurant may require a good glass of wine. Serious Eats gives us three different wine pairings with three different Thai dishes (quotes by Todd Knoll, the executive estate chef at Jordan Vineyard & Winery)

Pad Thai: The classic noodle dish, often served with crushed peanuts.
Wine Pairing: Chardonnay (alternatives: Alsatian wines, Australian Semillon).
"The 2008 Jordan Chardonnay is actually perfect, but any Chardonnay with low alcohol, high acids and balance can work great. Low alcohol is important, especially with spiciness. I like to clean my palate with wine—you're getting some oils, especially with pad thai."

Yom Tam: A hot and spicy soup.
Wine Pairing: Chardonnay again, but a more fruit-forward, unoaked version.(alternative: Reisling)
"You have to be careful with oaked chardonnay, because the spice will accent that, and it's just too much. Go with unoaked. A little residual sugar,and you'll have a better pairing. The balance of spice vs fruit, you want more fruit on the nose or more sugar in the glass.
Chicken Satay: Grilled meat in a peanut based sauce; originally an Indonesian dish but widely adopted on Thai menus.
Wine Pairing: Cabernet, (alternative: Reisling, Chardonnay)
"That's a tricky one. I would definitely go with a wine with some residual sugar. You're getting a spice so you're going to need a sweeter wine, but you don't' want to overpower the chicken. To be honest, beer is better with this dish than wine."

Eat It With a Grain of Salt

Once again, williamcook has not disappointed me. The following is great to give as a gift or even to purchase for your own kitchen! (source: http://www.saltnews.com/cooking-with-himalayan-salt-plates-blocks-bricks-platters/)

The Fundamentals of Himalayan Salt

A boulder of Himalayan salt emerges from darkness of a 16th century mineshaft in Pakistan and explodes into light, catching and refracting the sun in hues ranging from water-clear crystal to clematis flower pink to deep meaty red. The rough salt rocks are then hand cut by local masons into a variety of shapes, providing the foundation for extraordinary new ways to prepare and serve food.
Indeed, there are as many uses for a heavy slab of Pakistani Pink Himalayan salt as there are foods, cooking styles, whims, acts of folly, and shows of bravado. The salt’s crystal lattice has a fairly high specific energy (energy per unit of mass), so it will tend to hold any temperature you bring it to for a good while. Also, due to its lack of porosity or moisture (.026%), the salt plates can be safely heated or chilled to virtually any extreme. We have tested them from 0°F up to 900°F.
Himalayan Salt CubeTwo other considerations come into play when working with our Himalayan salt plates. Their lack of porosity means that the surface area touches your food is minimal. Compared to, say, ground up salt or naturally evaporated salt crystals, these large blocks of salt will impart only a very moderate saltiness. Second, the high quantity of trace minerals (1.2% sulfur, .4% calcium, .35% potassium, .16% magnesium, and 80 other trace minerals) impart a more mild and full taste to the salt, providing another level of flavor complexity to your food.
Himalayan Salt Block Recipe & Cooking Ideas
Armed with that knowledge, we unleash the hounds and set to. Here are just a few of our favorite uses for our Pakistani Pink Himalayan Salt Plates.
a) Arrange thinly sliced Carpaccio or sashimi on a cool salt platter and serve. Watch as the food literally salt-cures while at the table, gently cooking the edges and bringing on just a smidge of mineral-rich saltiness.
b) Place a large square tile of Pakistani Himalayan salt under the broiler. Wait 30 minutes, then remove the tile with a kitchen glove. Set on trivet at table, and saute fish, meats, and veggies while your guests or family look on with awe, disbelief, and dawning admiration. While cooking, your food will take on a light saltiness. Note that The Meadow’s larger Himalayan salt tiles will often hold heat long enough for repeated grillings before needing to reheat, but that batches will be successively saltier.
c) For an out-doorsy variation on the above, place a large platter of our Himalayan salt on the backyard grill, and plank grill a fennel-and-lemon stuffed monkfish, a lime-and-ginger marinated flank steak, or a balsamic and garlic rubbed Portobello mushroom.
d) For a variation on the wilder side of the out-doorsy, do what our two boys clamor for day in, day out, day in, day out (be forewarned). Heat a large Himalayan salt platter on an outdoor gas grill (best) or an indoor gas stove (use extreme caution). Lightly butter the salt platter, toss on firm bananas, grill 20 seconds on each side. Turn off the grill (important), douse with grappa or bourbon, ignite with a long match, and watch the flambé! Blow out last flames and serve with scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.Barely salted and seductively caramelized, the bananas spring to life against the cool silken contrast of the ice cream.
e) Freeze a Himalayan salt block or plate for two hours. Remove, and plate up scoops of ice cream or sorbet. More fun yet, warm lightly whipped sweet heavy cream, egg, honey, and aged bitters, and refrigerate. Remove the salt slab from freezer, pour mixture on it, slowly lufting with spatula, for a salt-tinged ice custard you will not soon forget.
Salt Brick from Pakistan’s Himalaya mountain range, great for making Gravlax.f) Impress your Jewish grandma with Gravlax. Thaw a filet of commercially frozen (for health reasons) salmon, roll in sugar and minced dill, arrange on a Himalayan salt plate, cover with a heavy brick of Himalayan salt, wrap in paper bag and refrigerate for three days, slice, serve with crème fraîche and melba toast or just eat!
g) Getting back to basics, just use it as a serving platter for butter, cheeses, dried meats, or your daily does of Himalayan Salt Dishpickled ginger and wasabe. When used as a plate for moist food such as apple slices and mozzarella, the food acquires an enhanced salt and mineral flavoring. One of ours serves as our regular butter dish.
h) If panache is what it takes to brighten the musty corners of your soul, try serving up an entire meal using large round or square Himalayan salt plates. Moist foods take on a touch of saltiness, dry foods do not, and everything glows with the otherworldly power of the ancient world (see Ogling below).
i) Place our larger platters of the Himalayan salt on the rack of your oven, preheat, and then bake bread, pizza, and savory pastries.
j) Get existential for a moment, place in window and stare idly at the beauty of salt in its natural, ancient state (see Ogling below).
k) Cut into jewelry, set in the precious metal of your choice, and nibble it as nibble jewelry from the lobes and fingers of your loved-one.
l) Take old (generally after many years of service) or broken salt plates and smash them up with a hammer (this should be fun), then arrange the prettier bits on a dinner plate as a garnish.
m) Take a bath, breaking up an old salt plate and tossing it into the tub to serve as an excellent and therapeutic bath salt, and pumice stone.

For more info on this great piece of kitchen tools, check out this websiteIsn't it the neatest thing? It's available on Amazon too for 68$ USD!

Mediterranean Couscous Salad

I often have leftover vegetables that I don't know what to do with before they go bad, and always end up using them up in a stir-fry or in a grilled vegetable sandwich. However, there are other ways to use leftover vegetables. 

In the spirit of mediterranean dishes, this recipe was suggested by williamcooks, a chef with great recipes and cooking techniques I follow on Twitter. I haven't tried it yet, but it sure sounds delicious! If you decide to try it before me, let me know how it is! Enjoy! (source: http://notecook.com/salads/mediterranean-couscous-salad/)


- 1 sm. eggplant, peeled
- 1 sm. zucchini
- 1 sm. yellow squash
- 1 red onion, cut into 6 slices
- 6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
- Coarsely ground black pepper
- 3 c. dry Israeli couscous
- 6 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 c. (4 oz.) crumbled feta cheese
- 1 pt. cherry tomatoes, cut into halves
- 2 tbsp. slivered basil


1. Prepare grill.
2. Cut eggplant & squashes lenghtwise into 1/4″ thick strips. Brush eggplant, squash & onions w/ 2 tbsp. olive oil, & season w/ 1/2 tsp. salt & pepper. Place crosswise on grill grate. Cover & grill over direct heat 1-2 min. on ea. side.
3. Place couscous in a pan. Add enough water to cover by 2″. Bring to boil. Reduce heat & simmer, covered til tender, about 10 min. Drain & place in lg. bowl.
4. Combine lemon juice, remaining olive oil, & remaining 1/2 tsp. salt. Whisk well. Pour over couscous. Add cheese, tomatoes, basil & grilled vegetables. Toss well.

Serves 8.

Nutritional Information:
Per serving; 370 cal.; 15 g. fat; 15 mg. chol.; 10 g. pro.; 50 g. carbs.; 5 g. fiber; 450 mg. sodium.

Grilled Vegetable Sandwich

Here's an easy-to-make delicious sandwich! Full of vitamins and will get you going for a while! I ate alot of those during lent and they surely keep you full! When I made it, I didn't have all the ingredients, but I made with what I had and it turned out great! Enjoy! (source: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Grilled-Vegetable-Sandwich-421)


- 8 large garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 teaspoon plus 3 tablespoons olive oil (preferably extra-virgin)
- 2 red bell peppers, halved, seeded
- 4 1/2-inch-thick eggplant slices
- 1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into 4 slices
- 4 large fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
- 8 green onions, roots and 4 inches of green tops trimmed
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or 3/4 teaspoon dried
- 3 tablespoons slice fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 4 large whole-grain rolls, halved, toasted
- 1 tomato, thinly sliced


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place garlic in custard cup; drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Cover with foil; bake until garlic is tender, about 35 minutes. Cool and mash garlic.
2. Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat) or preheat broiler. Grill or broil peppers, rounded side toward heat, until peppers are charred, about 10 minutes. Wrap in paper bag; let stand 10 minutes. Peel peppers. Transfer to platter.
3. Arrange eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms and green onions on baking sheet. Brush vegetables on each side with 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill or broil vegetables until golden and tender, turning once, about 6 minutes per side. Cut green onions into 2-inch pieces. Transfer vegetables to same platter. Sprinkle with thyme and basil.
4. Whisk vinegar and remaining 1 tablespoon oil in bowl until blended. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle dressing over vegetables.
5. Spread rolls with mashed garlic, dividing equally. Top each roll with tomato slices, then roasted pepper, eggplant, zucchini, green onions and mushroom.


Chunky Healthy Hearty: Fresh Mediterranean Tomato, Spinach and Lentil Soup


In my first summer of vegetarianism I quickly realized how hard it is to get a good canned soup that fulfills all the needs I was speedily coming to understand as a veggie newbie: how do you keep vegetables from getting boring? How do you keep homemade soup from coming out stringy or too salty? The answer on that fateful day was lemon lemon lemon. And spinach. And a giant pot.

This soup is incredibly inexpensive to make, lasts for days, and only gets better the longer it sits in your fridge. Besides what's listed here you can throw in basically any vegetable you've got on hand, which for me is usually carrots (throw them in first). I've tossed in precooked chunks of potato in the past too (only to heat them if they're well cooked), to great avail. I almost always double this recipe. Your house will smell sooooo good I promise.

You're gonna need:

1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp (5 mL) dried basil leaves

1/2 tsp (2 mL) each dried oregano and thyme leaves

Pinch each dried rosemary leaves, crumbled, and pepper
My pinches are more like small handfuls to be honest

3 cups (750 mL) vegetable stock

1 can (28 oz/796 mL) diced tomatoes, including juice

1 can (19 oz/540 mL) lentils.

Juice of 1/2 lemon

3 cups (750 mL) fresh baby spinach leaves
Of course you can use frozen, but it's just not the same. Frozen spinach will break up more easily and does taste a little bit different

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Optional, but highly recommended if you can get the good stuff
Have on hand:
Large (and I mean large) soup pot/saucepan, preferably with handles for leverage when you stir this baby - the soup's really chunky so it can take a little muscle and you don't want this all over your kitchen floor (believe me).

Go to!:

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add celery, onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in seasonings, vegetable stock, tomatoes, lentils and lemon juice.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 5 minutes. Stir in spinach leaves until wilted, about 30 seconds, really not much longer. Serve with Parmesan, if desired. Grate lemon zest as garnish if you're into that and love the lemon.

Makes 8 cups (2 L), 4 servings.


Tomato Tip: If you have canned whole tomatoes rather than diced, an easy way to cut them up is using kitchen shears. Pour tomato liquid into soup (to avoid messy overflow) and cut tomatoes in the can.

Nutritional Info

Per Serving: 280 cal, 20 g protein, 6 g fat, 42 g carb, 10 g fibre, 1265 mg sodium. Excellent source vit A, vit C, folate, niacin, thiamin, iron, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc. Very high source dietary fibre (take note!)

Calories : 280 (AMAZING)

photo from: www.treehugger.com