Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Thai Zucchini Salad

Try as I might, I just cannot say no to BBQ on these summer weekends.  And why should I?  Its summer, its delicious, its being served at a big family party - there is no need for guilt there.  To balance it out I try to gorge myself on healthier options consisting of fresh seasonal veggies during the week.

When I came across this gorgeous and colourful recipe on The Cooking Canuck's blog I thought "Yay! This is perfect".  This recipe is so healthy, easy to make, and totally affordable if you're on a tight budget.

The other nice thing about this salad?  Its totally raw, so you don't have to slave over any hot stove surface to prepare it (which is a godsend on these weirdly hot and humid days we've been getting here in Atlantic Canada, it was 41 degrees Celsius the other day!). AND its vegetarian friendly (sub in some agave instead of honey and extra soy sauce instead of fish sauce and there are no animal products at all - I've got your back, vegans)

Not a fan of raw veggies?  Give it a try anyway, I dare you.  They're crunchy and flavourful and the rich and salty dressing really takes them up a notch in my books.

To make this salad you will need:

Thai Zucchini Salad
Serves 4

For the Salad
1 zucchini, chopped into matchsticks
1 yellow squash, chopped into matchsticks
1 red bell pepper, chopped into matchsticks
1 handful of cilantro

For the Dressing
1 Tbs fresh squeezed lime juice
1 Tbs low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp Sriracha
1 clove garlic, finely chopped

lime slices for spritzing

1. Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl.  Mix it up and let them mingle with one another
2. Combine zucchini, squash, and bell pepper in a bowl and mix it up.
3. Plate your vegetable mixture, top with cilantro and drizzle with some dressing

Yum! Enjoy this summer veggie treat.


Monday, July 15, 2013

The Shack Review

The Shack is one of the newest additions to the Halifax Waterfront Restaurant scene and is my favourite - by far - of all the food options on the Halifax Boardwalk.  Its about time a place like this showed up.  When tourists pour into downtown Halifax in the summer they are no doubt looking to try some fresh and local Nova Scotia Seafood (arguably the best seafood in the land, but I'm a tad bit biased) but for years the Halifax boardwalk food scene has been pretty dull.  There are countless hot dog, burger and ice cream stands but nothing - until now - that made me want to head there with an empty stomach (okay... so maybe I've visited Cow's Ice Cream on occasion)

Cue The Shack Oyster Bar, a teeny tiny little hut (brought in from a teeny tiny Maritime fishing village and spruced up a little) smack dab in the middle of the Boardwalk serving up fresh and locally caught raw and cooked seafood.  Serving up this delicious local fare is seafood aficionado Nick Budreski and his business partner and local Halifax chef & food blogger Renee Lavallee.  These two are clearly a match made in heaven because The Shack is doing amazingly well.  Clearly these two saw this void in the summer tourism market and are now reaping the benefits. Well done you guys!

The oysters are caught in the shallow northern Nova Scotia waters of Black Point. It is said that since these waters are so shallow they yield a higher percentage of sun warmed nutrients, giving the shellfish a sweet and plump flavour.  Having tried all kinds of oysters, I would have to say Black Point and Malpeque (from PEI) are my two favourite types.  These oysters were so fresh that a simple spritz of lemon would have done just fine but I am, admittedly, a sucker for cocktail sauce. So sue me.

Down the hatch! 

These were so juicy and delicious and, as an added bonus - since we had gone out the night before and were feeling a bit green - we got to replenish some seriously needed zinc (oysters are the zinc powerhouses of the food world) which is depleted by alcohol.

I can't say enough wonderful things about The Shack.  I could seriously live off of seafood alone and I am so excited to revisit The Shack this summer and try more than just the oysters! My only complaint is that they aren't open when it rains so I can't visit them more often!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Grilled Watermelon GIVEAWAY!

I'm so excited to share this news with you guys today.

About a month ago the lovely and wonderful Louise of Ancestral Chef, an amazing blog for all your Paleo recipe needs, sent me an e-mail asking if it would be ok if her fiancĂ© published my Grilled Watermelon Salad Recipe in the magazine he runs, Healthy Recipes Magazine.

I, of course, jumped at the chance!  This was the first time someone had reached out to me regarding one of my recipes and I was as happy as Santa Claus on Prozac at Disney Land for the rest of the week month.

After a month of waiting the day is finally here!

Louise had kindly sent me a link to share that will give all of my readers with iPads a FREE (again, free - who doesn't love that?) 3 month subscription to Healthy Recipes Magazine!  Isn't that exciting?!  To those of you who don't have iPads the magazine will be available soon through iPhone and Kindle but, currently, an iPad is necessary for the offer.

Check it out HERE

ALSO Louise, being ever so kind, has offered a HUGE grand prize of a ONE YEAR LONG subscription to the magazine so I have set up a giveaway for you fine folks so check it out below.  There are 4 super easy ways to enter so what are you waiting for??!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For my own personal celebration I stopped in to the delicious and amazing Bourbon Quarter to enjoy the salad that started it all (photographed below).  A few summers ago I worked at the Bourbon Quarter as a waitress and I cannot say enough great things about them.  Not only is their New Orleans inspired menu full of delicious options to satisfy even the most elite palate, the people behind the scenes (the Verner family) are such amazing and caring people.  You should stop in just to meet them!  The one summer I was there they made me feel like family - which really does nurture a successful working environment.

This salad alone should be enough of  a reason to stop in though.  I probably ate one before every shift I worked.

So thank you, Bourbon Quarter (and the entire Verner family) for being the inspiration behind my take on the Grilled Watermelon Salad (if there is any way I can repay you, just let me know!!) If any of you find yourself in Saint John, New Brunswick please stop into Bourbon Quarter, you won't be disappointed!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Roasted Rhubarb & Radish Salad

Nothing screams "summer" like some treats fresh from the garden.

My Mother's garden to be precise.

On my last trip home I raided it before I left to ensure my little treasures were as fresh, vibrant, and nutritious as they could possibly be. I snagged some fresh baby radishes, rhubarb and baby lettuce. Don't you just love how bright and tasty they look when they've come right from the ground?

Seems like all the right fixings for a yummy summer salad, right?  I thought so too. I had never encountered rhubarb in a salad so I was excited to incorporate it.  I was a bit worried initially because rhubarb has such a tart bite to it so I thought it might be a bit over powering to the whole flavour of the salad.

Never fear, just toss it in a tablespoon of sugar and roast it for about 7 minutes to soften it up and get its natural sugars rolling.  Add some crisp baby lettuce, baby radishes, goats cheese, roasted almonds and a garlic balsamic dressing and you have one amazing salad with a flavour profile that will knock your socks off.

Best enjoyed in a serene meadow with a picnic basket full of goodies (or on the tiny lawn of your apartment building surrounded by construction workers - you have to make your own oasis), here is what you need to make this incredible summer salad:

Roasted Rhubarb & Radish Salad
Serves ~4

3 cups baby lettuce (sub in other greens if you like! I made it again with baby spinach the next day)
2/3 cups rhubarb, chopped
1/4 cup almonds
1 Tablespoon sugar
10-12 baby radishes, sliced
2 Tablespoons goats cheese, crumbled
2 Tablespoons EVOO
3 Tablespoons White Balsamic Vinegar
1 clove garlic, diced
sprinkle of salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss radishes and almonds in 1 tablespoon sugar. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and roast for 6 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
2. Combine EVOO, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper and mix it all up.
3. Add lettuce, radishes, goats cheese, rhubarb and almonds to salad bowl.  Drizzle with balsamic dressing and toss to coat.

Super healthy & only 145 calories, this succulent salad can be enjoyed guilt-free all summer long!


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Sweet BBQ Chicken Kabobs

After a week and a half of constant darkness & rain the sun has finally returned to Atlantic Canada!  To celebrate I thought I would share my most recent BBQ obsession recipe with all of you!

I had intended to post this on Monday as a Canada Day recipe but I got a little too "patriotic" over the weekend and just didn't have it in me.

Sooo... HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY (good save, Brea)!  Yes, American readers, this one is for you.  If you're celebrating the USA today with a large BBQ and all your closest friends (and hopefully a pool, its going to be a scorcher) then this recipe is for you.  Its waaaay healthier than the several pounds of ground beef and frozen hot dogs you may or may not have thawing on your counter right now (thats right, I see you AND your processed meat) and it is way tastier.

If you have some onions, peaches, sweet potatoes and chicken laying around well then you're basically set.  Add a sticky sweet glaze and some roasted nuts and you can forget about your 4th of July party because you'll have one going on right in your mouth.  

This recipe, adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, is simple to prepare and clocks in around 370 calories per serving. This is a steal considering that the typical BBQ hamburger + bun + cheese and toppings will cost you a cool 600 calories or more on average (depending on your toppings... but lets round up because who doesn't love bacon and mayo?) not to mention double your daily salt intake.

If I haven't sold you yet you'll also get a solid helping of lean protein from your chicken, a great dose of phytochemicals (good for healthy eyes and hearts!) and so much dietary fibre and carotenes from your peaches and sweet potatoes you won't know what to do with them (your hot dog isn't looking so "hot" any more, is it?)

To create these beautiful beasts of the BBQ you will need:

1 medium sweet potato, peeled & chopped into chunks
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup honey, plus 1 Tbs more for the nuts
2 Tablespoons canola oil
Sprinkling of salt, pepper, and garlic powder
1 small onion, cut into chunks
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks (lots of chunks in this recipe, saddle up)
2 ripe peaches, cut into (you guessed it) chunks
1/3 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least 4 hours prior (so they don't burn on the grill)

1. In a steamer, cook your sweet potatoes until just about cooked (you want them to be pretty firm still to hold up on the grill) about 8 mins

2. Combine vinegar, 1/2 cup honey, oil, salt and pepper in a saucepan and simmer, stirring occasionally, until it is reduced to about 2/3 cup (should be thick enough to stick onto your kabobs)

3. While your glaze is simmering, start threading your chicken, onions, sweet potatoes and peaches onto your skewers.

4. Brush your skewers with half of your glaze and arrange kabobs on the grill. Cook covered until well marked on one side (4-5 mins), flip and cook until chicken is cooked through (4 mins approx but will depend on how thick your chicken chunks are)

5. While kabobs are cooking, preheat your oven to 400 and toss your almonds with your cumin, cinnamon, salt, pepper and the remaining honey. Cook almonds for about 4-5 minutes, until nuts are fragrant (you can also toast your nuts on the grill by spreading them over some tin foil, its your call)

6. Once kabobs are cooked throw them onto a platter, brush them with the remaining glaze and sprinkle them with toasted nuts

Ta-da!  Delicious BBQ treat for your 4th of July celebrations.  You'll never go back to your hamburger or hot dogs again & your friends will be begging for your recipe!


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Strawberry Basil Bruschetta with Ricotta Toasts

This recipe is easier than a bridesmaid at a wedding and will bowl you over with utter satisfaction. Sweet, juicy, creamy, crunchy and a wee bit messy, this stunner of a recipe, modified from Fine Cooking Magazine, is the perfect thing to serve at any summer gathering.

Armed with locally grown Nova Scotia Strawberries (yeeessss, strawberry season) and my home grown basil I set to work making myself a little Strawberry Basil Bruschetta with Ricotta Toasties for lunch.

And I'm so glad I did.

This recipe literally took 5 minutes in total to make so it would be perfect when you're in a pinch for time and need something beautiful, healthy and delicious to serve.

If you think this recipe looks as enticing as I promise you it tastes than run (don't walk) to your nearest farmer's market and grab some fresh and local strawberries.  Make sure you grab an extra pint of strawberries because if there is one mistake I made with this recipe it was not making extra.

Strawberry Basil Bruschetta with Ricotta
12 slices of baguette
1 Tbs EVOO
1 cup strawberries, chopped
1.5 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 small handful of chopped Basil
.5 cup ricotta
1 Tbs honey
Sprinkle of sea salt

1. Brush Baguette with EVOO. Turn on your broiler to high and toast baguette for 3 minutes, until golden brown.
2. Toss together strawberries, basil and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl.
3. Mix ricotta, sea salt and honey together in another small bowl
4. Spread toasted baguette with ricotta mixture and top with strawberry mixture.  Serve immediately (or the toasts will get soggy!)

and 92 calories for 2 toasts isn't half bad either!!


Monday, June 24, 2013

Multicultural Festival 2013

The Halifax 2013 Multicultural Festival took place this weekend.  The weather was hot and the crowds were out in full force to get a taste of some delicious international cuisine. For those of you who missed out, here is a recap!

I woke up Sunday morning ready to eat. I threw on a baggy sundress dress (lots of room for my inevitable expanding tummy), grabbed Mark and got on the way - giggling like a little school girl with excitement.

The first stand we stopped at was from Sri Lanka.

We tried the meat roll and the chicken curry.  Both were quite good but the chicken curry was the clear winner. It was my second favourite dish of the day.  It was a weird combination of spicy, sweet and savoury all at the same time. I stabbed Mark with my fork trying to get the last little piece of chicken.

Then we rolled over to the Jamaican stand, run by local restaurant Caribbean Twist.

We tried the Jerk Chicken...

 ...and something called a Roti which was made of chicken curry, potatoes and chick peas wrapped in thin flat bread.

Both were delicious but my favourite was the Roti.  I love a good chick pea though so I'm biased.  The chicken curry was a bit sweeter and the potatoes made it a bit heartier.  The jerk chicken was also delicious but after a few bites the heat really started to kick in and all I could taste was the hot spice, not the chicken.

Luckily, the Jamaican booth was also serving this delicious and smooth mango juice.  It cost just as much as the jerk chicken and was worth every penny.  Well played, Caribbean Twist, well played.

Next, we headed outside to check out the grills.  We saw this Portuguese stand grilling up some whole fish.  We didn't taste one but I'm regretting it now. 

The reason we didn't taste the BBQ fish was because we were hurrying towards the intoxicating scent coming from this grill.  Rocky's Filipino Shishkabob.  Be still my heart.

It was sweet and succulent pork on a stick.  Melt in your mouth delicious. I need to track down Rocky and get the recipe for his marinade. This was by far my favourite bite of the day.

We should have purchased two because we fought over every little bit of pork.

We wandered around for a few minutes while we digested and saw some of the sights.

And then we gave into our tummy's wishes and stopped at the amazing Korean booth.

We tried some Bibibmap (this was my first try and I loved it!)

And some dumplings (both steamed and fried).  These were delicious dipped in the sweet and salty sauce they give you.

And then we washed it all down with some locally brewed Raspberry Garrison Beer.  I love their raspberry ale.  I'd have to give it the title of favourite summer beer as of right now.

We explored a bit longer while sipping our beers and I took a few other pictures before we headed home.  We spent the rest of the afternoon rubbing our stuffed bellies with satisfaction.   

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