Guest Post: Mediterranean Summer Salad With Extra Virgin Olive Oil

I love purchasing fresh local produce this time of year. Sometimes, the produce doesn’t even make it to the dinner table because I’ve eaten all of it as a snack! This happens every time I buy peas in the pod. I eat them all. Usually by myself. The cat will beg for them — my cat is strange, she loves to eat fresh green vegetables — and I’ll do my best to ignore her. Bryan usually comes home only to find a pile of empty shells… I tend to forget to save some for him as well.

I was quite excited, then, when Randi proposed the guest post I’m sharing with you today. Why? Because I love a delicious fresh salad and this one looks hearty enough to be a meal itself! And because tomorrow is Farmer’s Market day and I’m going to pick up some fresh produce to make this salad for lunch. Take it away Randi!


Author Bio: This is a guest post by Randi Leeds on behalf of Flavor Your Life. To get ideas on how to use olive oil please visit www.flavor-your-life.com.

A vibrant new campaign in support of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, “Flavor Your Life,” has launched in North America. It is jointly funded by the European Union, the Italian Department of Agriculture and Unaprol; the largest consortium of Olive growers in Italy. The goal of the campaign is to educate North American consumers and retailers on the importance of product origin and the quality level of the oil they use daily.

With all the recent controversy over the question “What IS EVOO,” this campaign aims to educate the North American consumer on the proper way to choose an extraordinary and tasty EVOO – from traceability to the origin of the product your purchasing.

There’s no better way to start summer off than with this tasty Mediterranean Salad, brought to you by the dynamic new campaign for Extra Virgin Olive Oil, “Flavor Your Life”.

Mediterranean Summer Salad With Extra Virgin Olive Oil

EVOO Mediterranean Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 pieces of Buffalo Mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 4 large tomatoes sliced
  • 3 English cucumbers sliced
  • 1 tsp. capers
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • Dash of salt & pepper
  • Fresh basil leaves for garnish
  • 4 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preparation

  1. Wash and cut all the vegetables.
  2. Place the green vegetables on a chilled plate.
  3. Add the mozzarella and cover with the sliced tomatoes.
  4. Sprinkle with capers and basil.
  5. Season with lemon juice, salt, and a pinch of pepper.
  6. Spoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil over dish.

To get ideas on how to use olive oil please visit www.flavor-your-life.com and follow us on Twitter and Facebook too.

Behind The Curtain Dessert Challenge: Strawberries and Raspberries (Stewed Rhubarb with Strawberries and Raspberries)

Woah, what’s this… two posts in one week?!

I’m posting twice this week so that I can participate in the Behind The Curtain Dessert Challenge hosted by Lady Behind the Curtain (you might remember that I guest posted on Sheryl’s blog back in January). I’ve been on the mailing list for this challenge since it began. I don’t often eat desserts, so it might seem weird that I chose to be on the mailing list at all. However, it’s not that I don’t like desserts, I just dislike foods that are overly sweet.

This month’s challenge ingredients called to me… and I couldn’t pass this one up. Strawberries and raspberries!

Strawberries are in season here in Ontario and I can’t get enough of them. Seriously! I bought some last week intending to come up with something for the challenge and ended up just eating them all plain. Yum!

So, this week I made a trip out to the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market to pick up some delicious local produce. My intention was to buy just a few things: fruit for the challenge and something for dinner. I should know better… $50 later I came home with as many groceries as I could possibly carry. I found some lovely local strawberries, rhubarb, and last season’s potatoes, raspberries (though I’m not sure where they came from), turkey hearts, pig tails, and a few other treats. We’ll be eating well this week!

When I came across the rhubarb, I knew I had to somehow work that into my dessert. But what to make… I briefly considered baking a pie. I thought about making a crumble. Another cobbler perhaps? However, I decided to go with a chunky stewed rhubarb. The rhubarb was only sold in large bundles, and stewed rhubarb is really versatile and I thought we would enjoy it because of the numerous ways you can serve it. Stewed rhubarb is great as an ice cream, yogurt, oatmeal, pancake, waffle, or biscuit topping, or as a filling for crepes. I ate my first serving plain. Yum!

Stewed Rhubarb with Strawberries and Raspberries

Inspired by, but much different from, my grandmother’s recipe.

Note: I used fresh produce to make this recipe. It would likely also work well with frozen produce if that’s what is available to you.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups rhubarb, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces – approximate cost $3.00
  • 3/4 cup cane sugar – approximate cost $1.25
  • 2 tablespoons lemon – approximate cost $0.20
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup raspberries – approximate cost $2.00
  • 3 cups strawberries – approximate cost $4.00

Method

  1. Combine the rhubarb pieces, cane sugar, lemon, and water in a large pot.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat.
  4. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Add strawberries and raspberries.
  6. Continue to simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat.
  8. Allow to cool.
  9. Serve on it’s own or with ice cream, yogurt, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, biscuits, crepes.

Makes about 10 servings (approximate cost: $1.05 per serving).

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Improv Challenge: Cinnamon and Sugar (Strawberry Cobbler)

Once again I find myself thinking… it’s been way too long since I’ve posted on my blog! Last post, I had just made it through the exam season. Since then, I’ve been quite busy as usual.

I took a short vacation to visit one of my very best friends and her family in Northern Ontario. I spent 3 wonderful days visiting and relaxing. The time out of the city was much needed.

Waterfall in South River

Waterfall in South River

We made a day-trip to Pickerel River where H’s aunt and uncle own a lovely cottage. It had been about 10 years since my last visit. As children, we visited for a week most summers, not a whole lot has changed (except they finished building the house). We even fit in a short kayaking trip! I wish I had been brave enough to bring my camera along, the was a waterfall down the river that was still frozen.

Pickerel River

Pickerel River

A beaver swimming in the Pickerel River

A beaver swimming in the Pickerel River

I have to admit I didn’t really want to come home. Don’t get me wrong, I missed Bryan and Loki. And I was looking forward to starting my summer classes. But a full week away would have been nice. 🙂

I’m excited to once again be participating in the Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker! This month, the challenge ingredients are cinnamon and sugar. So far, I’ve shared:

This month, my dish is inspired by my trip up north. When we visited Pickerel River, H’s mom made a lovely peach cobbler that we took along for dessert. For the challenge, I made a Strawberry Cobbler!

Strawberry Cobbler

Inspired by S’s Peach Cobbler

Ingredients

Fruit Filling

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 cup COLD water
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice – approximate cost $0.20
  • 3 cups sliced strawberries – approximate cost $2.00
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon – approximate cost $0.10

Topping

  • 1 cup flour – approximate cost $0.40
  • 1 tablespoon cane sugar – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/2 cup whole milk – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided into 6 – approximate cost $0.30

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare the fruit filling.
    1. Combine the cornstarch and cold water in a cup.
    2. Mix well.
    3. Add cornstarch mixture and brown sugar to a sauce pot.
    4. Cook over medium heat until thickened and sugar is dissolved.
    5. Remove from heat.
    6. Add lemon juice.
    7. Add strawberries.
    8. Pour into a 9×13 baking dish.
    9. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
  3. Prepare the topping.
    1. Combine flour, cane sugar, baking powder, and sea salt in a large mixing bowl.
    2. Add milk, stirring constantly.
    3. Add water, stirring until well-mixed (no dry flour).
  4. Spoon the topping over the fruit (leaving it in dumpling shapes).
  5. Dot each dumpling with butter.
  6. Bake the cobbler for about 25 minutes (or until topping is cooked through and golden brown).
  7. Cool slightly.
  8. Serve warm and enjoy!

Makes 6 servings (approximate cost: $0.60 per serving).



Asian-Inspired Bean Sprout Salad with Citrus and Soy Dressing

Whew! I’ve made it through yet another exam season. Grad school is a bit different, we tend to have large research papers to hand in. I’m relieved to be done course work for a few weeks. And am working on a few other projects before the spring term begins. One is a research project I’ve been working on for a little over a year. It’s nice to see it coming together! The other is an event for game enthusiasts: Make a Game or DIY Trying. We’ve invited local speakers who work in the game industry to talk about their careers and will host a design competition in the afternoon. I’m looking forward to taking a few days off next week to relax before the next set of classes start.

With everything coming to an end for the term, Bryan and I took the evening of April 23rd off to celebrate our 9 year anniversary! 9 wonderful years. It sounds like a long time. It hasn’t felt all that long.

Us at Bryan's convocation -- there are very few pictures of us because I'm usually the one holding the camera

Us at Bryan’s convocation — there are very few pictures of us because I’m usually the one holding the camera

Anyway, we were both quite busy during the day, but were able to spend the entire evening together, starting with dinner at our favourite restaurant, Taka! It’s on the opposite side of the next town (near where I grew up), but is always worth the trip! The family that manages the restaurant is very generous, they always greet us with enthusiasm, give us appetizers on the house, which usually means we go home with leftovers. Yesterday was no different. Warm welcome, fantastic and friendly service, delicious food, and enough leftovers for a quick lunch today. We then headed home for a quiet evening. We’ve been watching Game of Thrones (I got the DVDs for my birthday a while back) and watched the final episode of season 2. We can’t wait for season 3 to finish and come out on DVD!

The recipe I’m sharing with you today is a salad that I’ve been making a lot recently that we’re both very fond of. The idea for the salad is based off of a recommendation from a friend. It’s very easy to make and surprisingly filling!

Asian-Inspired Bean Sprout Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 cups bean sprouts – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1/2 cup watercress – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen edamamae beans – approximate cost $1.50

Method

  1. Cook edamamae beans according to package.
  2. Soak hot edamamae beans in an ice water bath.
  3. Rinse the bean sprouts and watercress.
  4. Pat dry.
  5. Combine bean sprouts, watercress, and edamame beans in a large salad bowl.
  6. Mix well.
  7. Top with Citrus and Soy Salad Dressing.
  8. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Citrus and Soy Salad Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon lime juice – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine) – approximate cost $0.15
  • 3 teaspoons Kikkoman soy sauce – approximate cost $0.20
  • 3 teaspoons sesame oil – approximate cost $0.50

Method

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing glass. 5.75
  2. Mix well.
  3. Pour over salad (before the oil and citrus separate).

Makes 2 meal-sized servings (approximate cost: $2.88 per serving) or 4 appetizer-sized servings (approximate cost: $1.44 per serving).

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Hummus and Vegetables

Back during the summer, my best friend and I had an evening together. Most of the time, we get together as couples. I don’t remember why it was just the two of us, but it’s what made the evening memorable. We ate homemade hummus (Bryan’s least favourite snack), chatted, and made an impulse decision to go to Dairy Queen at about 10:30pm. I was really impressed with her homemade hummus and ate way too much of it. I was even more surprised when she told me that it was very easy to make. (Put all of the ingredients in a blender, combine, and enjoy!)

The next day, I got a call saying that the hummus tasted even better the next day. The flavours had a chance to meld.

This recipe is my attempt to re-create T’s hummus. I made it based off my memory if the ingredients she told me to use. Adding a bit of this and that until it tasted right. I even took some of the finished product to work and allowed my co-workers to taste test. I’m thrilled to report they thought it was pretty good!

I like to serve hummus with vegetables (carrots, radishes, celery, etc.), but it’s also great with pita  chips.

Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 x 540 mL can of chickpeas, ¾ of the liquid drained – approximate cost $1.25
  • 5 tablespoons tahini – approximate cost $0.75
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice – approximate cost $0.50
  • 4 cloves of garlic – approximate cost $0.40
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.10

Method

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor.
  2. Process until chickpeas are smooth in texture.
  3. Pour into a serving bowl.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours so the flavours meld together.
  5. Serve with a side of fresh vegetables such a mini carrots, radishes, celery slices, green pepper slices, etc, and/or pita chips.

Makes 2 lunch-sized servings (approximate cost: $1.50 per serving) or 6 servings  (approximate cost: $0.50 per serving) as a snack.

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From my cookbook collection: Chicken Jalfrezi

Happy Birthday Bryan (The Official Taste Tester here at The Cook’s Sister)! Today, I’m going to celebrate his birthday by sharing links back to some of his favourite foods that I’ve blogged about and share a new recipe that he was very fond of. Check out some of Bryan’s favourites:

As you can probably tell, he really likes Southwest inspired foods and flavours. But… today I’m going to share a recipe from an Indian food cook book that I received as a birthday gift from my best friend a few years ago.

The book is Cooking School: Indian (ISBN 978-1-4075-6263-6 from Parragon Books). Why do I love this book? All of the recipes are formatted to fit on one page. There are beautiful pictures of the dish on the 2-page fold. The directions are broken down to be simple and clear. And best of all, everything I’ve made from this book has bee delicious, tasting just as good as the Indian food at our local restaurants (sometimes the recipes are a variation of what we’re used to, but always fantastic). I’ve made the Tandoori chicken, butter chicken, and now, the chicken jalfrezi.

This book has sat on my shelf for a while. I’ve read through and bookmarked recipes of my favourite dishes at restaurants when I first got it. I’ve thought about giving a few things a try, always dismissing it for one reason or another. It looks too time consuming, I don’t have time to marinate the meat, or I don’t want the apartment to smell like curry for a week were a few of my excuses. So, about a month ago, I finally cracked the cookbook, leafed through the recipes I had bookmarked, and decided on one that I would make.

Afterwards, I contacted the publisher to see if I could share the recipe with you (and, as I’m sure you’ve already guessed, they said yes!). And so the cooking began. I’m not very familiar with cooking Indian food, so I made a  trip to the grocery store and stuck mostly to the original recipe. I added some yellow pepper for colour and used fresh grape tomatoes instead of canned tomatoes. The result? A yummy chicken jalfrezi!

This recipe is about a medium-spicy dish. If you want to turn up the heat,  add more tumeric, cumin, coriander, chili powder, and garam masala. Similarly, use less of these ingredients if you want the dish to be more mild.

Do you stick to a recipe when making new dishes? Or do you feel comfortable making substitutions?

Chicken Jalfrezi

Recipe from Cooking School: Indian (ISBN 978-1-4075-6263-6, http://www.parragon.com), posted with permission from the publisher

Ingredients

  • 1 pound /9 ounces /500 grams skinless, boneless chicken thighs (or breasts) – approximate cost $4.50
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 teaspoon salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 teaspoons garlic paste – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 teaspoons ginger paste – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1/2 teaspoon tumeric – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon chili powder – approximate cost $0.10
  • 5 1/2 ounces / 150 grams canned chopped tomatoes – approximate cost $1.10
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 small or 1/2 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch / 2.5 centimeter pieces – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 small or 1/2 large green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch / 2.5 centimeter pieces – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala – approximate cost $0.10
  • Indian (naan) bread or cooked basmati rice to serve – approximate cost $0.50

Method

  1. Cut the chicken into  1-inch / 2.5 centimeter cubes and put in a nonmetallic bowl. Add the lemon juice and half the salt and rub well into the chicken. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.
  2. Heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 8-9 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the garlic paste and ginger paste and cook, stirring for 3 minutes. Add the tumeric, cumin, coriander, and chili powder and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the oil seperates from the spice paste.
  3. Add the marinated chicken, increase the heat slightly, and cook, stirring, until it changes colour. Add the warm water and bring to a boil, Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes.
  4. Heat the remaining oil in a small saucepan or skillet over low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until browned. Add the bell peppers, increase the heat to medium, and stir-fry for 2 minutes, the, stir in the garam masala. Fold the bell pepper mixture into the curry. Remove from the heat, and serve immediately with Indian bread or cooked basmati rice.

Makes about 4 servings (approximate cost: $2.80 per serving).

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Trout with Almond Slices, Lemon, Butter, Parsley, Pepper, and Capers

Last week, we celebrated Nana’s birthday with a family dinner. I worked from home in the morning and spent the afternoon running around town picking up groceries from various places, shopping for a birthday gift, picking my brother up from his first day at a new job, then home to make dinner.

It was a busy day. I was glad to end the day with a good, home-cooked meal and some time with my family. It was a very typical visit at home: cook, dinner, dessert, walk the dogs, visit a while longer, then I headed home.

Because I had the afternoon off, I got to plan dinner. Nana had specifically requested fish, any kind, so dad asked me to pick up trout. I also stopped by Herrle’s, a farmer’s market just outside town and picked up a bunch of fresh, local vegetables (tomatoes, cucumber, romaine lettuce, and green beans). For dessert, I baked a confetti cake (my family’s favourite). I’ll admit, I took the easy way out with the cake. I used an Angel Food cake mix from a box added a few sprinkles to the batter and a package of Dream whip for the frosting. It was delicious nonetheless.

We all pitched in to bring dinner together.

I chopped tomatoes and cucumber for the salad. My brother and his girlfriend cleaned and trimmed the massive amount of green beans. Dad prepped and baked the fish. My step mother cooked the potatoes on the barbecue. My brother finished working with the green beans quickly, so he helped me tear the romaine lettuce for the salad, then he blanched the green beans.

Amazingly, even with five cooks in the kitchen, we managed to have everything ready at the same time and sat down to a lovely family dinner.

Who cooks when you attend a family dinner? Just one cook or does everyone pitch in?

Trout with Almond Slices, Lemon, Butter, Parsley, Pepper, and Capers

Dad’s recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 large trout fillets – approximate cost $25.00
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1/2 cup almond slices – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1 teaspoon parsley – approximate cost $0.15
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted – approximate cost $1.25
  • Capers for serving (optional) – approximate cost $1.50

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Rinse trout fillets with cold water.
  3. Lay fillets flat on a baking tray.
  4. Pat dry with a paper towel.
  5. Drizzle lemon juice and butter over the fish.
  6. Sprinkle fish with salt, pepper, parsley and almond slices.
  7. Bake until cooked through.
  8. Serve with capers and enjoy!

Makes 8 servings (approximate cost: $3.76 per serving).

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Mouthwatering Mondays

Rabbit Braised in White Wine

My parents tell me that rabbit was one of my favourite foods as a child. Yet, I don’t remember eating it, ever (nor do I remember seeing it for sale at the grocery store). I have trouble believing I was so adventuresome with my food choices at the time.

So, when rabbit was available at work, I quickly text messaged Bryan, asking him if we should give it a try. It was a bit more expensive than what we would usually buy for dinner, so I wanted to consult with him about whether I was being a bit too spontaneous with my food purchases.

I hummed and hawed over the purchase. Bryan was more than willing to give it a try. He was more confident than I was about my ability to turn it into something edible for dinner.

Was I going to like it? Would it be too much over our usual budget? Have I progressed enough as a cook to take on something like this? It still kind of looked like a rabbit… could I bring myself to cook it?

At the end of the day… it was still there, so I wrapped it up and decided to buy it. Worst case scenario I botch it and we order pizza instead.

Well, I cooked it, ate it, and enjoyed it very much. Bryan seemed to enjoy it a lot as well. We had leftovers for a few days and I found it was best reheated in the oven as opposed to the microwave.

Have you ever been nervous about cooking dinner? If so, what is it that you were nervous about cooking? What made you nervous?

Rabbit Braised in White Wine

Adapted from Rabbit with White Wine from Canadian Living

Ingredients

  • 1 rabbit, cut into bite-sized pieces – approximate cost $15.00
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 teaspoons black pepper – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tablespoon butter – approximate cost $0.10
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced – approximate cost $0.30
  • 1 Spanish onion, diced – approximate cost $1.00
  • 4 carrots, sliced – approximate cost $2.50
  • 1 package (about 500 grams) crimini mushrooms – approximate cost $3.00
  • 1 cup white wine (I used Silver Point Sauvignon Blanc 2010, New Zealand) – approximate cost $1.75
  • 1 cup chicken broth – approximate cost $1.50
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary (I used fresh rosemary from my garden, but 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves would work as well) – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme – approximate cost $0.20
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 baguette (for serving) – approximate cost $2.00

Method

  1. Combine flour, salt and pepper in a plastic bag.
  2. Add rabbit pieces (in batches).
  3. Shake the flour mixture to coat the rabbit pieces.
  4. Repeat until all pieces are coated in flour.
  5. In large pot, heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat.
  6. Brown rabbit pieces (in small batches).
  7. Transfer browned rabbit pieces to a large baking dish.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  9. Reduce heat to medium.
  10. Heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon of butter in the pot.
  11. Add onion pieces, carrots, and a few tablespoons of the remaining flour mixture.
  12. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion pieces soften.
  13. Add crimini mushrooms and garlic.
  14. Cook for about 1 minute (garlic will become fragrant).
  15. Add white wine and chicken stock.
  16. Bring to a boil (mixture should begin to thicken).
  17. Remove from heat and pour over rabbit pieces.
  18. Sprinkle with rosemary, thyme, and lemon juice.
  19. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes (or until the rabbit pieces are cooked through).
  20. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving with a piece of baguette as a side (and a glass of leftover wine).

Makes about 6 servings (approximate cost: $4.93 per serving).

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Sweet (Iced) Tea

I had my first sweet tea in Tennessee when I was 17. It was fantastic and I wished very much that it was available at home. But it isn’t, so I tried to make my own (it didn’t work out so well at the time). The next time I travelled, my flight had a stop-over in Chicago. And I was ecstatic to find that the McDonald’s in the airport served sweet tea (I think it also had unsweetened iced tea, something for everyone’s tastes). It wasn’t as fantastic as I had remembered and I was quite disappointed. A few years later, in Florida, I decided I would give sweet tea a try yet again. I bought a whole gallon (which my friend graciously let me keep in her fridge). It was gone by the end of my visit.

Remember when I went to Virginia back in May? Well, one thing I forgot to mention about this trip was my obsession with sweet tea. I couldn’t get enough of it! I had sweet tea at least once per day. At one point, I even made a special trip out one evening, just for a cup (the biggest cup available) of sweet tea.

It’s just better than the sweet iced tea that we have here in Ontario. What makes it so much better? It seems that sweet tea is freshly brewed everywhere. Even McDonald’s! (In fact, McDonald’s is one of my favourite places to get a sweet tea because I know it will consistently be delicious).  The tea is always slightly warm and is served over a glass full of ice. It’s an interesting combination of warm and cold in each sip (unless you savour the sweet tea, then it’s mostly cold by the time you finish it). I usually don’t get to this point.

I’m just a bit better at cooking now than when I was 17 (obviously, I’m exaggerating, I’m much more informed now that I cook daily). So, I decided to make another attempt at making sweet tea at home. It’s delicious and almost as tasty as the sweet tea that I get when vacationing in the US. Bryan wasn’t much of a fan – he drinks his iced tea unsweetened. I enjoy iced tea either way!

Yesterday, Sharyn from thekalechronicles (a blog I follow regularly) posted about how to properly brew tea and iced tea. It’s a very interesting and informative step-by-step instruction for brewing tea. My tea is not brewed properly, so my next batch of sweet tea will be made following Sharyn’s directions. There are a lot of tea shops in town, so I’m hoping to find a suitable/similar loose leaf tea.

Sweet Tea

Ingredients

  • 6 1/2 cups water
  • 2 bag of Lipton Cold Brew Tea (“pitcher”-sized tea bags, or 4 regular Lipton black tea bags) – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/3 cup cane sugar – approximate cost $0.75
  • 3 teaspoons lemon juice (optional) – approximate cost $0.15

Method

  1. In a large pot, bring the water to a boil.
  2. Add the sugar.
  3. Stir until the sugar dissolves completely.
  4. Add the tea bags and turn off the heat.
  5. Allow the tea to steep for 7-10 minutes.
  6. Remove the tea bags (so the tea doesn’t get bitter).
  7. Stir in the lemon juice.
  8. Let the tea cool until it is warm.
  9. Fill a tall glass with ice.
  10. Pour some of the sweet tea over the ice.
  11. Serve and enjoy immediately!

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve the tea warm and with a generous amount of ice.
  • Add a slice of lemon as garnish.
  • If you chill the tea, slightly heat a single portion of sweet tea (in the microwave or on the stove top) and serve over ice.

Makes 6 servings (approximate cost: $0.28 per serving).

Mangia Mondays is a weekly blog hop/link part hosted by Delightfully Dowling & Shine Your LightCheck out the other posts for Mangia Monday!

Also linking to Makin’ You Crave Monday (hosted by Mrs. Happy Homemaker) and Made by you Monday (hosted by Skip to my Lou)!

Beef Burgers with Asian-Inspired Flavours

One of my blogging goals I set for myself is to post three times per week (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays), except on those really busy weeks when I can’t meet those goals. To help me continue motivating myself and working towards my blogging goals, I’ve decided to start participating in What’s Cooking Wednesday – a weekly blog hop/link party hosted by The King’s Court IVTurning The Clock Back, and Confessions of an Overworked Mom. I’m excited to be participating!


As you can probably tell, I’ve been making a lot of burgers lately. Earlier this week, I shared the chicken burgers with smoked paprika and rosemary that my brother and I prepared for mom’s birthday.

Bryan visits a friend on weekends who owns a barbecue. The get-together is of the ‘bring your own food to throw on the grill’ sort. So, I’ve used this as an opportunity to play with adding various seasonings to burgers. This burger with Asian-inspired flavours is his favourite so far.

I kept a few at home to try myself and it is quite tasty! I especially like it topped with avocado mayo. I would have preferred avocado slices, but none of the avocados at the grocery store were ripe and I didn’t have time to wait for them to ripen.

Bryan has asked me to make this again (even though he ate them just the other week). While I enjoyed these as well, I declined so I can experiment with a few more types of burgers. Surprisingly, he is ok with this (I was half expecting that he would be disappointed). Instead, I was pleasantly surprised when he complimented my saying he loves when I experiment while dreaming up what we will have for dinner.

What are your favourite flavours to add to (beef) burger patties?

Beef Burgers with Asian-Inspired Flavours

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef – approximate cost $4.50
  • 1 egg – approximate cost $0.35
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (or white wine) – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (more if you’d like it spicy) – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper – approximate cost $0.10
  • 4 hamburger buns – approximate cost $1.00

Method

  1. Combine the ground beef, egg, breadcrumbs, dark soy sauce, mirin (or white wine), lemon juice, chili flakes, sesame oil and black pepper in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Mix thoroughly using your hands (but be careful not to over-work the meat, that will make it tough).
  3. Divide the beef mixture into 4 portions.
  4. Shape each portion into a burger patty.
  5. Cook the burger patties any way you like!
    1. Barbecue the burgers until cooked through and slightly toast the buns.
    2. Fry the burgers over medium-high heat.
    3. Grill the burgers on a counter-top grill.
    4. Broil the burgers in the oven, turning once to cook both sides.
  6. Serve on hamburger buns with your favourite toppings!

Serving Suggestions

Serve with slices of your favourite vegetables and condiments.

Vegetables

  • Red onion
  • Green onions
  • Tomato
  • Lettuce
  • Avocado

Condiments

  • Mayo
  • Japanese mayo
  • Avocado mayo
  • Ketchup

Makes 4 servings (approximate cost: $1.85 per serving + toppings and condiments).

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