Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Maple Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins

Cornbread is something some people associate with chili. Others like it warm and buttered with a cup of tea. I like to eat it hot out of the oven, no tea required. The other day my mind decided I wanted cornbread. I also wanted a blueberry muffin, but I was feeling too lazy to make both things, so why not combine them and see what came of it? This lovely little muffin has the grainy goodness and sweetness of cornbread, with the tangy, fruity goodness of blueberries, and the slightest hint of maple syrup (I love maple syrup; my favourite is one I brought from Montreal, and my supply is running low. I've got to make a trip out there soon :o)

Maple Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins

My go to cornbread recipe is the one off the back of a bag of Purity brand cornmeal that I made a couple of adjustments to. It's awesome; The cornmeal is awesome, too, because it's finely ground.

3/4 cup cornmeal
1 1/4 cups milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup maple syrup + 2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup blueberries
1. Combine cornmeal and milk and let the mixture stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

2. Add butter and egg to the milk and cornmeal mixture. Mix well. Add to dry ingredients, stirring until just combined (Apparently, this is important because too much mixing will cause tunnels to form in the finished cornbread). Fold the berries in while you're combining the wet and dry ingredients.
3.  Spoon batter into lightly greased muffin cups (about 3/4 full each cup). Pop these into the oven and bake at 400 F for 15 to 20 minutes.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Cornmeal Crusted Snapper Fillets w/ Sweet Pointed Pepper Salsa

Sweet pointed peppers have been in season for a while now. Almost every weekend I go to the farmer's market and pick up my bag of these veggie delights. I love to slice them up and layer them on paninis, or flatbread pizzas, or just eat them over a pita and hummus. There's something irresistible about these peppers. So naturally, the other day when I made fish, I had 2 peppers left in the fridge and I thought I might as well integrate them into dinner. I like my fish with a bit of something to garnish the top, and I thought back to my fish tacos with salsa. Yep, salsa sounds good, but I think I'll make it a biiiit differently. The cooked salsa is a lovely complement to the dry cornmeal crumb, and the almost tortilla-like flavour of the crust melds perfectly with the slight acidity of the salsa. Yum!

Cornmeal Crusted Snapper Fillets w/ Sweet Pointed Pepper Salsa

Cornmeal crusted Fish:

1 large egg, lightly beaten 
coarse salt and ground pepper 
2 cups fine cornmeal (I use Purity brand)
1 tablespoon garlic powder 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
500-600 grams snapper fillets, cut into wide strips (snapper seems to be the fish of choice around here, but you can use tilapia or haddock, etc)

1. Preheat oven to 475 F and line two baking sheets with aluminum foil. You'll need two oven racks.
2.  Place egg in a wide shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper. In another bowl, combine cornmeal, garlic powder, and oil. Dip the fish into egg, shake off the excess, then dip it into the cornmeal mixture, pressing it so the crumbs adhere. Place breaded fish onto prepared baking sheets.
3. Pop in the oven and bake, about 12 to 15 minutes. Rotate the sheets between racks halfway through.

Sweet Pointed Pepper Salsa

3 roma tomatoes, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
juice of 2 lemons
2 sweet pointed peppers 
1/3 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper (+ a bit more, to taste)

1. Place the chopped tomatoes in a nonstick pan, over medium-high heat. Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Cover and allow to simmer about 10 minutes. 
2. Add the pointed peppers and cilantro to the pan, cover and allow to simmer another 5-7 minutes. Then uncover and allow to simmer, until liquids have evaporated.
3. Add salt and pepper, to taste and serve over fish.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

25 Great Health Tips c/o Dr. Oz

 The doctor is in...Men's Health :)
The other day I came across this article. Yes, I do read Men's Health regularly; I find it highly relevant. I jest, but the title piqued my curiosity and I found myself clicking through the slide show to see if I was doing something right (because if Dr. Oz says so, it has to be right, right?)
So it turns out I'm following quite a few of his health tips (and there's some I couldn't possibly follow, from an anatomical stance :p), so I guess I'm on the road to good health.

Which of these tips are my top five?

1. Laughter. It definitely is the best medicine. If I'm having a lousy day, or I'm about to hang from the ceiling like a cat from all the stress, I take a time out, watch the Mindy Project, or just have a conversation with my sisters (some of the funniest people I know), and I feel so much better.

2. Tasting the rainbow. No, not Skittles; fruits and veggies. I've long know how important colourful foods to maintaining a healthy system and I've made great strides integrating these into my daily food options, though I have to count and see if I'm eating the nine fistfuls.

3.Yoga! I'm not a yogi master yet (goodness knows if I'll ever reach that level of flexibility/strength), but when I am doing yoga is when my body feels less sore and so much more flexible, and it really is a stress reducer. Sometimes I've been so relaxed (or tired?) that I've found myself nodding off during the breathing exercises.

4. Avoiding the fads. I've never been a proponent of those quick weight loss methods, if only because I hate putting restrictions on what I eat. And I could never live with a diet that consisted mainly of meats (Dr. Atkins :|). The main thing to remember: good things take time; lose the junk food, get physical and in due time, you'll be fit!

5. Dance, baby! Zumba, anyone? I can't honestly say I've ever seen a fella at Zumba class (save for one insanely talented instructor I had). Regardless, this is one fitness class I look forward to all week. I have fun, I burn calories, I laugh and at the end of the hour I feel fantastic. Dancing to stay fit? Get your groove on, people.

What are your top tips for great health?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Double the Chocolate!

 That's an old zucchini from the fall that I forgot to freeze. Amazingly it's not decomposing.
School's out for summer....not quite forever, and no, I did not blow it to pieces (I should probably not even joke about that. Red Flag!!!). In all seriousness, though, I'm so relieved to be done with the majority of my coursework. Now I can take a brain break, and give my poor old kitchen some much needed attention. Whenever I want to celebrate something, I always look for chocolate. Good grade? That deserves some chocolate! Aced an interview? Why, I think a chocolate cookie is in order. Survived a Kinesis class? Two squares of dark chocolate wouldn't hurt :) So it's only fitting that I celebrate the end of the semester with some chocolate, while keeping it healthy!

The zucchini in this recipe (yay for fall freezing!) makes for a deliciously moist muffin, and if you can find some cacao nibs and grind them up (I used a coffee grinder) to use in place of the powder (I never have cocoa powder :|), you'll be in chocolate heaven! Also, the original recipe makes something like 20 muffins; I halved it, but you can double up.

 Healthwise Ultimate Chocolate Zucchini Muffins ( adapted from Iowa Girl Eats)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Fish Tacos

Summer should be just around the corner. Just a couple months, and who knows how many more snow dumps to go. Are tacos a summer food? For some reason whenever anyone says "fish tacos" I envision summer, or maybe I envision sunny California, because so many people talk about the amazing fish tacos in California. Whatever the case, I've never had fish tacos. And today there were tortillas, and breaded fish; my version of a fish taco was born. These aren't your Tex-Mex flour tortillas; these are legit corn flour, handmade, warm and soft corn flour tortillas (naturally gluten free!), like your grandma used to make (at least mine did, before she handed the torch over to my mother). Perhaps in the future I'll elaborate on the tortilla-making process, but for now: Fish Tacos.

Fish Tacos

You'll need:
Panko crusted fish fillets (I had snapper on hand)
Corn flour tortillas (they're these thin little ones) or flour tortillas (6 or so)
Moro Salsa
Sour cream (or if you can get your hands on some crema, but this is a bit more, indulgent, shall we say)

To make the fish: 
1 large egg, lightly beaten 
coarse salt and ground pepper 
2 cups panko 
1 tablespoon garlic powder 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
500-600 grams snapper fillets, cut into wide strips 

1. Preheat oven to 475 F and line two baking sheets with aluminum foil.
2.  Place egg in a wide shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper. In another bowl, combine panko, garlic powder, and oil. Dip the fish into egg, shake off the excess, then dip it into the panko mixture, pressing it so the crumbs adhere. This could get a bit messy. Place breaded fish onto prepared baking sheets.
3. Pop in the oven and bake until lightly browned, about 12 to 15 minutes.

To make the salsa:
3 tomatoes (I used some lovely yellow heirlooms), chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 cup moro (blood orange) orange juice
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper 

Put all the ingredients into a medium sized bowl, and stir together. Cover and refrigerate until you're ready to use.

Take your tortilla, and place the fish fillet on top, then add some salsa. Add some salt to the sour cream; a pinch to taste. Add a dollop of sour cream to the top of your taco and chow down :)

If you want a completely gluten free dinner option, substitute panko crumbs with rice Chex that have been through the food processor. Gluten free Chex crumbs :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Power Breakfast: Quinoa

Quinoa came onto the scene a couple of years ago; back then I thought it was pronounced "quin-Oh-ah" and I wasn't all that interested in all the hype. Two or so years later, I now know it's "queen-wah" and it's a staple in my cupboards. I'm usually late to the party, but at least I get there :p It's not just a fad food; this ancient grain is not only an excellent source of fibre, it's also a complete source of protein (it has a full set of essential amino acids). Who would've though that one little grain could pack such a powerful punch?

Quinoa Breakfast Bowl (from Glow Magazine, September 2011)

1/2 cup red or white quinoa
1 1/4 cups almond milk
pinch of salt

Add ins: Go crazy! Vanilla, cinnamon, maple syrup, agave syrup, fruit preserves, nuts, chopped berries. 

Stir together the quinoa and the almond milk in a medium saucepan. Add the pinch of salt, stir and bring to a boil. Let it simmer 10-15 minutes, just until the milk is absorbed.  I happen to enjoy it with a touch of cinnamon and maple syrup, garnished with some slices almonds.

Source: Glow Magazine, September 2011.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Cherry Cheesecake

1-1/2 cups  graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp  sugar
1/3 cup  butter, melted
4 packages  cream cheese, softened
1 cup  sugar
1 tsp.  vanilla
4 eggs
1 can cherry preserves
1. Heat oven to 325°F.
2. MIX graham crumbs, 3 Tbsp. sugar and butter; press onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan.
3. BEAT cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and vanilla with mixer until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust.
4. BAKE 55 min. or until center is almost set. Loosen cake from rim of pan; cool before removing rim. Refrigerate 4 hours.