Dad’s Lentil Salad

ImageI stuck my nose up at my Dad’s lentils for a long time.  When we were traveling through France, the smell of lentils cooking (along with his fishy bouillabaisse) would send us little kiddies running upstairs. ImageBut of course, now that I’m  grown up (at least a little bit), it’s one of my favourite dishes.  So healthy, so easy to make, so fresh, and the perfect simple dish to eat on your sunny balcony when things just seem so crazy in this world. Maybe it sounds silly, but making this salad made me feel close to home, and in the wake of the tragic news in America this week, it was comforting.  Dad’s Du Puy Lentil Salad

Sexy Pink Quinoa Salad

beet4I have my wonderful roommate to thank for this gem of an endorsement: “This salad is perfect for Valentine’s Day! It’s pink, but it’s light and healthy so you’re able to have a great time in bed after.” (Thanks, Shamora!)beet2I’ve always liked quinoa salads; they are so versatile and easy to throw together. My enthusiasm for cooking the grain here in Huelva has given me a bit of a reputation amongst my friends — I’ve been called the quinoa queen (a crown I’ll accept!), and they’ve joked that my first born will be named Quinoa (definitely not.). But despite their teasing, my pals have jumped on the quinoa bandwagon too, and some kind of quinoa dish is almost a guarantee at any of our dinner parties.beet1beet3 So, if you were worried about a too heavy meal when you celebrate this day of love, or just something a little healthier to add to a celebratory spread, Shamora and I give you this quinoa dish. Bright pink with a crunch from the beets, creamy goat cheese, a touch of nuttiness, and a kick from the Dijon vinaigrette, I hope you fall in love with this salad, too!
(Sexy) Pink Quinoa Salad

Yummy Mummy Meatloaf


I asked the students at the school I am working at if everyone gets dressed up at the school for Halloween and they looked at me like I was crazy. The teachers told me that due to globalization Halloween has become pretty big here, but apparently it is considered too “western” to wear costumes to school (I’m not really sure what this means, since I thought Spain was pretty “western”, but there you go. Maybe they think it’s too North American?). In any case, my parents are in Huelva this week and I’m traveling with them this weekend (yay!), so I’m not sure if I’ll be doing anything special for Halloween, but if I do dress up, I plan on utilizing clothes I brought to be a Canadian lumberjack/Habs fan. Creative, I know.

This meatloaf is evidence that it does not take much to amuse me. Make your meatloaf look like a mummy? Yes, please!
I do, however, have an aversion to food that looks good and fun, but sacrifices flavour in the process — that doesn’t happen here. The combo of this meatloaf and pasta is warm and comforting whether in mummy shape or not! Add a veggie side and you’ve got dinner. Happy Halloween! What are you dressing up as?



Chocolate Ricotta Mousse

You know what’s awesome? A dessert that only takes 10 minutes to put together. Toss it in the fridge for an hour while you do something productive (or nap), and then it’s ready. It’s like it practically makes itself. Magical.

This is one of those desserts.  Minimal effort, but fabulous results. This is for chocolate lovers. It isn’t too sweet, so the intense chocolate flavour is the star of the show.  Serve it with a spoonful of whipped cream and seasonal fruit, and voilà!,  a deliciously pretty dessert.

Slightly less exciting is when you have a major brain fart and don’t realize that your lactose intolerant friend probably can’t eat ricotta cheese. Don’t bring this to lactose intolerant friends, even if they are incredibly nice about it and happen to have another dessert on hand anyway. You could make coconut macaroons instead, maybe?

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When You’re Sick: A Spoonful of Rice Pudding Helps the Medicine Go Down

This title may be a bit misleading, since I haven’t been on any medication. And although Mary Poppins is very wise,  a spoonful of rice pudding must be smoother than a spoonful of sugar, so I’m sure it’s actually even better in that regard.
Anyway, at least I feel like my whining earlier was semi-justified — turns out I’ve been sick with mono and an inflamed liver (no booze for me, yay!).  I’m feeling a lot better, but my days have been reduced mostly to going to work and coming home to flop down on the couch; so not much excitement. Luckily for me, I’ve been entertained/taken care of by lovely friends and family who don’t seem to mind hanging out with a sloth, so it’s all good. 
My appetite took a serious nose dive during the last couple of weeks, and since keeping food down was a challenge in itself, I definitely didn’t feel like cooking much.  This rice pudding totally fit my sicky requirements of comfort food, good simple flavours, and yummy at any time of day (since I really wasn’t following any kind of structured meal times!). I’d made this rice pudding a few times before, and now that I know I can make it happily while home sick, I think I can declare this recipe a definite winner. The caramelized bananas give it a special little extra touch, and for the extra five minutes it will take you, are worth it.

Rice Pudding with Caramelized Bananas

When You’re Sick: Eat Your Greens. Monochromatically.

(Whine alert!) It’s been a week of being sick, and I am not amused!  In the winter time, I expect to get a cold at some point — it always happens, so I’m ready to bundle up and slog through school and enjoy my tea.  But this summertime sickness is weird and just won’t go away. It started with a headache which led to a fever, which came back for a night or two, then seemingly disappeared only to make a brief encore appearance and leave me in peace with this lingering headache and stuffy nose.  I know it’s really nothing serious, so I’ll stop whining. But you guyyyyys, I don’t like it!

This is what I do when I’m sick: travel plan with tea (obviously), get pep talks from my cough drops, and watch my favourite guilty pleasure show (I’ll admit it…Say Yes To The Dress…)

I’ve missed out on my tennis, volleyball, yoga, and painting the town red; I might actually be turning into a sloth. In fact, Dunlop has taken over my yoga mat while I’ve been out of commission…

A real downward dog?

So hopefully my lack of activity/gain of nap time is kicking this little bug out of my body! There are some things that I crave when I’m not feeling well (tea, pho, smoothies, Say Yes To The Dress…) and although my appetite seems to take a dive when I’m sick, I like to try and make sure I still have some light, healthy meals.  This is how this salad was born, but it is definitely something I’m going to keep making even in times of 110% health (which will be most of the time for all of us, I hope!). “That’s just a bowl of green.”, you might say, “Nothing exciting!”… BUT IT IS! And so easy to make! I was tired after chopping this minor amount of food, but that is not normal so don’t you fret.

That’s all you need!

I’ll include the “recipe” of course, but this is one of those dishes where you don’t need one. Simply make it to your taste. Just make sure you have the avocados (I called it an avocado salad after all!) because they create the lovely creaminess for the rest of the veg.  Then add your favourite green vegetables (or fruits! and they don’t HAVE to be green, we’re not discriminatory), some cilantro or basil, some lime juice, a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch each of salt and pepper and you’re done. That’s it! Delicious and easy, my favourite combination. (OK, please don’t take that one out of context…)

My mum is a rebel. Adding red grapes? Delish.

Green Avocado Salad

Happy Birthday, Mum! [One Bowl Chocolate Cake]

If it’s true that daughters turn into their mothers, I think I’m OK with that.  I admire my mum a ton. As far as mums & daughters go, I think we get along pretty darn well. And I’m really glad we do, I know I’m a lucky kid! She embarrasses me every once and a while, but isn’t that kind of the point of being a parent? (Ha! Shows what I know about parenting! And more likely, I embarrass her right back…)

“Octopus Arms”

When it comes to working in the kitchen, we couldn’t be more different.  My mum is the type of person who cleans up as they go along, so by the time her recipe is done the kitchen is as clean as it was when she started.  If I’m baking, there’s usually a fine layer of flour that’s settled over the kitchen and the task of cleaning up after myself can often seem daunting. (As my mum points out, if I just cleaned up as I went, this wouldn’t happen…)

My mum’s birthday was actually a little over a month ago now and I totally meant to post this for the occasion — it’s the thought that counts, right? I’d talk about blaming my disorganization, but I feel like I do that often here…
Anyway, whether you fall into the same category as my mum of domestic & organized goddess, or mine, of scrappy kitchen forager, this cake is a winner.

Happy Belated Birthday, Mummy! — mama circa 1987

With the help of my mum, this cake was the first I ever made.  Incidentally, I made it for my mum’s birthday several years ago and it actually didn’t turn out so well: my brother and I forgot to grease the pan, so we just served the cake in the pan.  We wanted to refrigerate it once we had iced it (with really, really thick chocolate ganache) so we put some (unlit) candles in it and popped it into the refrigerator until dessert…when it came time to serve it the ganache had become so hard it was impossible to cut the cake (or get it out of the pan), and the candles were pretty much cemented in there. …it still tasted really good, though!
Since then, I’ve used this recipe so often I think I have it down to 10 minutes of prep time — pretty handy for a dessert that can actually look pretty fancy if you don’t bring robots into the equation (not that there’s anything wrong with them!).

This is the cake that comes up in my house for practically every birthday or occasion — just because it’s so easy to make doesn’t mean it isn’t decadent! Rich, moist, and intensely chocolatey, this cake is the bomb…I got it from my mama!  Mum’s One Bowl Chocolate Cake

(don’t even try to steal my) Fig Gallette

Well hey there! I do still exist, I’ve just been having too much fun and a tad disorganized. My mum said that I’m going to “socially exhaust” myself…I laughed at her, but I’ve been battling a runny nose&sore throat combo that just won’t go away so maybe she’s right (as usual!). Amidst all the fun I’ve been having there was a bit of a bummer a couple weeks ago: my iPad and wallet were stolen from under my desk at work while I was at a short meeting.  Several other people on my floor were also unlucky victims of this thief who made off with some extra cash, iPhones and Blackberries; it wasn’t a fun day at the office. It’s unfortunate because everyone is just so comfortable at work and security is good (you need a key card to get in on each floor) so I never really thought to worry, but now I have a locked drawer and that’s where all my stuff will stay. Anyway, I’m only writing about this because the story has an almost-happy ending! The next day one of my super nice supervisors dug through garbage cans outside of our office building to see if the thief had dumped some stuff in there.  Indeed, he had!  I was able to get my nice wallet back (although it was really stinky), and all my cards/ID/license, which saved a lot of hassle. So just goes to show that there are some supremely nice people out there (I mean, he went through downtown garbage cans with his bare hands, what a guy!). I lost some cash and my iPad which really blows, but it’s not the end of the world. 

That day I had lunch with some great gals who watched me cry and ranted with me about how low some people are which made me feel a lot better (thanks, girls!).  I was also lucky to be having another great gal over for dinner that night! My brother made chow mein and Angela brought over a delicious cheesecake, so this fig gallette that I made may have been superfluous to our meal but I had fun making it, and by the end of the theft-day that was what I really needed.

Gallettes are lovely since they really let the sumptuous fruit shine through with a flaky, buttery crust for a bit of a treat. This recipe from franish nonspeaker was easy to whip up and perfectly nut-free for both Angela and my twin; hurrah! The simplicity of baked figs with a drizzle of honey is a perfect combination (even without the dough if you are so inclined). Bon appetit! And if you happen to buy an iPad with “KShap” engraved on the back…that’s mine!

Just Trust Me [Avocado Ice Cream]

I could gobble up avocados. If I’m in a hurry, I’ll drizzle a half with some olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and voilà! a yummy snack. Salads, sandwiches, spring rolls, guac, tacos, breakfast, lunch or dinner, I’ll eat some avocado. With all this avocado enthusiasm, I’m surprised that I hadn’t had any for dessert until recently.
This ice cream actually only happened because my mum had stocked up on avocados recently, and I hadn’t been at home much so they were ripening fast without anyone taking advantage of their goodness (I guess my family needs an avocado monster around the house). To solve this conundrum, I was looking for avocado recipes that would freeze well. There don’t seem to be many of those out there — except for avocado ice cream!
I know it might sound weird, but it’s a very refreshing flavour; light and just the right amount of sweetness. Don’t knock it til you try it! 

Avocado Ice Cream