Category Archives: Dinner

Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is notoriously unhealthy.  Loaded with mayonnaise and some other questionable ingredients it’s not something we really should be eating as it’s not the best thing for our bodies.  It is however something I adore and with the oppressive heat we’ve been living with for the last few days, I had a bit of a craving for it.  It’s one of those summer meals you eat at a picnic or on your back deck.  It’s something I knew I needed to make healthier if I was going to be able to indulge in it.

Yesterday after lunch I began the experiment and at dinner we sat down and feasted on the results.  My husband loved it, my son enjoyed it as well and I was able to satisfy my craving.  It was the perfect meal on a hot summer day.  If you have cookouts or BBQs ahead, give this a whirl.  I’ll be making it many times this summer as it was perfection and quite healthy too.  I hope you enjoy it as I did!


Pasta Salad:

Ingredients:

For the dressing:

  • 1 pkg mori nu silken tofu (soft)
  • 1 tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1/8 of a tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp pickle juice {from a jar of dill pickles}

For the salad:

  • 1 jar of sliced olives {or 2 heaping handfuls}
  • 2 15 oz can of chickpeas
  • 1 jar of roasted red peppers {6 in total}
  • 1/3 c sun-dried tomato pieces
  • 1 box of whole wheat macaroni cooked and drained
  • the prepared dressing
Instructions:

  • In a food processor combine all of the ingredients for the dressing and process until smooth.
  • In a large bowl, combine the olives, chickpeas, red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and macaroni.
  • Add about 1/2 of the dressing and stir.  Assess the coverage and add more as needed.
  • Cover the salad and chill in the fridge until cool.
  • Enjoy!

Extra Information:

  • If you like red onions, they would go perfectly with this dish.  Dice one up and throw it in.  Raw onions and I are not friends so they are not included in my recipe.
  • You should have some dressing left over.  Put it in the fridge and use it on sandwiches or any other way you’d use mayo.  It should be good for a couple of days.
  • Feel free to mix things up and throw in whatever ingredients you would like to make it yours!

Tomato Cucumber Basil Salad with Honey Balsamic Dressing

That name’s a mouthful, isn’t it?  This salad was thrown together tonight in a moment of desperation when I realized I was too late to begin my planned meal. The tomatoes were ripe on the counter, cucumbers fresh from the store and the honey from my farmer’s market was just crying out to be used.  It was delicious.

When the tomatoes are fresh and plentiful I tend to make use of them and this is one of my favorite ways.  Fresh tomato salad is refreshing, easy and quite attractive {if I do say so myself}.  Enjoy!

Tomato Cucumber Basil Salad with Honey Balsamic Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 medium tomatoes
  • 2 english cucumbers
  • a small bunch of fresh basil
  • 1/2 c balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
Instructions:
  • Chop your tomatoes into bite size pieces
  • Quarter your english cucumbers and chop into bite size pieces
  • Chiffonade your basil
  • Combine the tomatoes, cucumbers and basil in a large bowl. 
  • In a small sauce pan bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil. 
  • Once it has reached a boil reduce heat and simmer.  
  • Add honey to the mixture and continue to cook until the sauce thickens. 
  • When the dressing is at the desired consistency remove from heat. 
  • Drizzle the dressing over the salad and mixed until it’s coated. 
  • Enjoy!  

 Extra Information: 

  • This is a great side at a BBQ or an excellent quick dinner.  I often whip up a small salad just for lunch.  It’s so good!
  • If you don’t eat honey I’m sure agave nectar would work quite well.   I haven’t personally tried it but I’d be interested to know how it works. If you try it, let me know!
  • Just in case you don’t know what a chiffonade cut is, it’s essentially cutting your basil in ribbons.  I’m sure everyone knows that but I just wanted to clarify in case someone didn’t.  To make my life easier I stack all the basil, roll it tightly and then shave off tiny ribbons.  It’s much easier than chopping and looks quite pretty in salads and pastas.

I {heart} Kale

I’m seriously in love with Kale right now.  We use it in everything from salads to smoothies and it brings a smooth flavor to whatever we’re cooking.  Last week we had quite a few small bunches left the night before we were headed to the farmers market and I decided to make some Kale chips to use them up.  Kale chips are delicious.

If you’re looking for a kid/adult friendly way to include more greens in your diet, Kale chips may be the answer for you.  They take an already tasty veggie and crunch it up.  You get crunch, nutrition and some fun at dinner.  It’s a win/win in my book.

My recipe is simple and somewhat vague.  I’ve included step by step pictures so that you can see it’s an inexact but ridiculously easy process and one I highly recommend attempting!

Kale Chips:

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 small bunches or 2 large ones.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 425. 

Clean the kale very well taking care to remove the tough woody stems from the leaves.  Break the leaves down into smaller pieces and place them in a bowl.  If the leaves are too wet at this point dry them a little before placing them in the bowl.   

This is how my leaves looked at this point.  Once your leaves are prepared, mix the olive oil and soy sauce together and then drizzle over the leaves.  Lightly toss with your hands to ensure the mixture is evenly distributed.  Place the leaves on your pan.  It should look like this:

I know the pan looks too full but trust me, it’s not.  The leaves shrink and everything will be fine.   Place your pan in the oven for 12-13 minutes.  After the alloted time remove pan from the oven.

Evenly distribute the leaves on the pan and place back in the oven for an additional 12-13 minutes.  When you remove the Kale chips from the oven a second time, check to ensure that they are cooked and crunchy.  If not, cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Transfer the chips into a bowl and lightly sprinkle onion powder and garlic powder over them.  I use a very small amount of onion powder and a slightly larger amount {though still small} of garlic powder.  The important thing to remember is to start small and taste as you go.  You do not want too much of either.  Gently toss the chips and serve!

Extra Information:

I don’t oil my pan as I have an old, beat up pan that I use for things like this.  The kale really doesn’t stick and if a few pieces do I can usually scrub them off with little to no effort.  If you are using a nice pan I would lightly spray it to ensure ease of cleaning.

You may find you have too much kale depending on the size of your bunches.  If I have a bit too much for the bowl or pan I’m using, before I drizzle the oil on I rescue a couple of handfuls and refrigerate them until I need them.  They keep very well and are quite handy once cleaned and prepped.

Hearth & Soul Hop

Grilled Hummus Wrap

We love hummus in this house.  I’m fairly certain if I gave my son hummus for breakfast he would be the happiest person in the world.  We eat a lot of it because it’s healthy, quick and so versatile.

Lately I’ve grown weary of the standard hummus, cracker and cut vegetable lunch my son favors.  I wanted something different, a little more grown up and this  wrap was the result.  It’s a grown up lunch and takes about 10 minutes from start to finish.  It’s fantastic.

If you’re in the market for a different lunch give this a try, you won’t be disappointed!

Grilled Hummus Wrap:

Ingredients:

  • One 10″ whole wheat tortilla
  • Hummus (I use light hummus but anything would work)
  • Sundried tomatoes.  These can be packed in oil or not according to your preference.
  • 1/2 of a roasted red pepper
  • a handful of baby romaine lettuce
  • 6 small olives cut in half. I like the olives stuffed with jalapenos but again according to your preference here.
  • 6 slices of english cucumber

Instructions:

  • Lay your tortilla flat and cover the about 2/3 of it with hummus.  Definitely hit the middle 1/3 and then move outwards until a fair amount is covered.
  • Lay the english cucumbers on top of the hummus in a strip from the top in a row of 4 with 2 on top of that row.
  • Lay the red pepper on top of the cucumbers.
  • Sprinkle with sundried tomatoes and olive halves.
  • Spread the romaine evenly on top of the wrap
  • Fold up the bottom half and then fold each side in on top of each other.  To aid in making sure my wrap stays together I always add a little hummus to the side that will be on top to make it a little sticky.
  • Place in your panini press and grill until golden brown and warmed through.
  • Enjoy!

Extra Information:

  • If you make this on the stove in a grill pan or frying pan you’ll have to grill it upside down to make sure the wrap seals before flipping it.  Because of this I would warn you not to overstuff the wrap as it can be disastrous {speaking from experience!}.
  • You could mix things up with other things you like.  When I don’t have roasted red peppers on hand, pepper strips work well.  I also enjoy adding basil and other seasonings from time to time.  The possibilities are endless!

Random Thought Thursday: March 22nd Edition

As I am sure you are aware I am loving this weather!  I’ve gone for walks everyday down by the lake and have been treated to this gorgeous sight:

How ridiculous is this for March?  So amazing and exactly what I needed.  I love the sunshine!

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I’m still reading and reflecting on Jesus but I won’t bore you with the details this week.  Let’s just say that I’m thinking a lot.  I’m feeling inspired and slightly unsure.  I am quite certain that God is working in my life and I am rather glad I chose to engage in Lent this way.
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You must eat this today….

I had some mushrooms that I needed to use and was wanting a quick supper and this was the result.  A garlic mushroom mozarella sandwich.  MMMMM.

Throw 16 oz of sliced mushrooms into a larger stainless steal pot with some white wine and a little water and cook down.  When the mushrooms are almost cooked at a pinch of salt, 1 tsp of thyme and 1/2 tsp rubbed sage.  Stir well.  Cook the mushrooms down until there are brown bits on the bottom of the pan (but don’t burn).  Add a little extra water and cook down again.  Once cooked remove from heat.

Have 12 slices of bread ready.  I used a garlic loaf (as in garlic baked right into the bread) and it was delicious.  If you can’t find a loaf like this rub some roasted garlic on the inside (where the cheese will go) and you should get a similar flavor.

Butter (or earth balance butter in my case) one side of each piece.  Flip over and load up six of the slices with mozzarella (I used Daiya mozzarella for a dairy free sandwich).  Throw some mushrooms on top.  Sprinkle the mushrooms with a little more cheese to help it stick together.  Place the opposite piece on top.

Grill these bad boys until brown.   You’re going to have some white wine left over so pour yourself a glass and enjoy it with your sandwich.

Heaven!
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My son is obsessed with trains.  This means we spend a lot of time with Thomas and Dinosaur Train.  I stupidly bought the soundtrack to Thomas because I knew he’d like it and now I have to listen to the song Roll Call over and over again.  It gets stuck in my head and I cannot get it out.  If you’re wondering what I am talking about here’s a video from the series:

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Fringe is new this week!  HOORAY!  I’ve been waiting for a new episode.  I’ll be in my basement tomorrow night at 9 pm watching if anyone needs to find me.
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Spicy Peanut Noodles

I love these noodles.  There are one of my favorite meals and they are regularly requested by my husband.  Beyond requests I find myself turning to this recipe when I need something fast and have about 15 minutes to get dinner on the table. They are so easy. They are beyond tasty.  There’s really no need for us to order noodles in anymore!

Spicy Peanut Noodles:

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha hot sauce
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 c water
  • 1 lb rice noodles
  • 1 c peas
  • 2 c shredded carrots

Instructions:

  • Put your water for the noodles on to boil.
  • Cook the peas and carrots in a sauce pan until just done.  Set aside.
  • While the vegetables are cooking combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, sriracha, ginger, water, sugar and garlic powder in a sauce pan.  Over medium heat cook until the peanut butter has melted and the sauce is smooth.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Once the water is hot, cook your noodles according to the package directions.
  • Drain the noodles and combine with the sauce.
  • Add the vegetables to the noodles.
  • Enjoy!

Extra Information:

  • These noodles can be served as is without the added vegetables but we find they add something.  You can substitute any vegetable you like, it doesn’t need to be peas and carrots.
  • The picture shows thin rice noodles but I much prefer the thicker ones. The sauce is good on any noodle but I find the thicker noodles keep things a little saucier.  This is strictly a matter of preference and doesn’t really matter in the end.
  • You can find the Sriracha hot sauce in your asian section.  It’s delicious.  My husband likes his spicy noodles extra hot and adds it straight to the noodles as he’s eating them.  It’s got a hint of sweetness to it and has a different flavor than the standard Frank’s red hot.   You’ll love it in this dish and use it in various things.  A very good investment if you’re not currently in possession of any.
  • If you use gluten free tamari or gluten free soy sauce this is absolutely gluten free.

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Warm Spicy Carrot Soup.

As I looked in my fridge this afternoon and pondered what we should have for dinner I noticed 3 bags of shredded carrots that I purchased earlier this week on sale and hadn’t done anything with.  It was a dreary, cold day here with brown grass staring at me through the window so I needed something warm and comforting.  Looking at the carrots and thinking of soup I thought I’d try something a little different than the usual Curried Carrot Soup I make.   As I looked in the cupboard I found I was still moved towards an Indian flavor but wanted something milder with a fuller flavor.  This Warm Spicy Carrot Soup was the answer.  Because it was late when I began this venture I took a few shortcuts.  As a result it came together in less than 30 minutes and my husband absolutely loved it!

Warm Spicy Carrot Soup 

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb of shredded carrots
  • 8 c veggie stock
  • 3 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric

Instructions:

  • In a large stock pot place the shredded carrots, veggie stock, onion powder and garlic powder.  Stir a few times to combine.
  • Bring mixture to a boil, stirring a few times while cooking.
  • In a small bowl combine the garam masala, chili powder and tumeric.  Set aside.
  • Once it is boiling, turn heat down to medium and continue to cook until the carrots are soft.
  • About 15 minutes into the cooking process add the spice mixture.  Stir well and continue to cook.
  • Once the carrots are cooked, blend mixture well.
  • Serve!

Extra Information:

  • I use an immersion blender for this but you could easily blend it in a stand alone blender or food processor.  Don’t over blend.  A little texture is a good thing.
  • This serves 4-6 people or one very hungry husband {and his wife}.

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Muskoka Bean Salad

While we were in Muskoka this summer there were a few days that were so mind numbingly hot that all we could do was jump in the car and head out to find somewhere with air conditioning or a cool breeze.  While we were exploring the countryside we happened upon Marty’s World Famous Cookbook by a local cafe owner Marty Curtis.   

As I poured through the pages that night I knew we had to find this cafe and give some of his delicacies a try.  The next day with some assistance from Google I found Marty and his Buttertarts in Bracebridge Ontario.   As I stood at the counter eyeing the deep dish pie and the delicious looking buttertarts, I knew that the only way to justify eating dessert was to order lunch first.

As I tucked in to some of Marty’s World Famous Bean Salad, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.  I had read the recipe in the cookbook and I’m usually not a fan of canned vegetables of any sort.  That said when I arrived home I knew I wanted to kick it up a notch.  I wanted to dial back the heat, ramp up the flavor and really feature fresh ingredients.  I’d like to thank Marty for the inspiration. This bean dish has become one of our staple recipes throughout our Meat Free month for Famine Relief and no one is going hungry as a result.

Muskoka Bean Salad

Ingredients: 

  • One can of chickpeas, drained
  • One can of kidney beans, drained
  • A couple of handfuls of fresh green beans (approx. 1 small box) washed and cut into bite sized pieces.
  • One cup of frozen corn.
  • 1/2 of a sweet onion, chopped.
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced.
  • 1 tbsp Earth Balance Butter (or margarine/butter whichever you prefer)
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp dried basil
  • salt and pepper

Instructions:

  • Heat the Earth Balance and olive oil in a pan on medium heat until the Earth Balance has melted.
  • Add the onion and cook until the onion is softened and beginning to brown.  This usually takes 3-5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the green beans and corn.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly to ensure they don’t stick.
  • While the beans and corn are cooking mix together the balsamic vinegar, basil and honey.  Set aside.
  • Add the chickpeas and kidney beans to the pot.  Cook for another minute.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the dressing.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Chill in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.
Extra Information:
  • This keeps very well and it tends to go quickly in our house.   I often make it as a side and eat the leftovers for lunch the next day.
  • If you don’t eat honey feel free to substitute Agave Nectar or Maple Syrup at your discretion.

Crusted Honey-Mustard Salmon

Salmon is a staple around our house but lately we’ve been getting pretty bored of the usual selections.  Last night I decided to mix things up a bit and created this tasty dish.  I’m a big fan of honey mustard sauce and I have grown fond of a light crust on a fish so here it is.  This simple, easy fish is a quick after work dish that can be on the table within 20 minutes.

Crusted Honey-Mustard Salmon

Ingredients:

  • 4 salmon filets
  • 1 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 c panko bread crumbs
  • sea salt and pepper to taste 
Instructions:
  • Set your oven to broil.
  • Cover a cookie pan with foil and spray pan with cooking spray.
  • Season each filet with salt and pepper
  • Place salmon on the pan.
  • Lightly brush the honey mustard sauce on each filet.
  • Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the fish so they are lightly coated.
  • Place the fish in the oven for 8-11 minutes or until done to your liking.
  • Enjoy!
Extra Information:
  • I broil my fish in my toaster oven in the top part of the oven. 
  • The fish does cook fairly quickly when you broil it so it’s good to watch to make sure it isn’t too well done when you pull it out.
  • This would pair well with a light summer salad or some fresh cut veggies.

Poached Hake on Spinach with a White Wine Reduction

This was my dinner last night.

It was tasty.

I’ve been on a bit of a health kick lately.  I’m planning menus around the least inflammatory foods, working extra vegetables and fruits into our diet and just generally trying to make us feel great.   I’ve been reading a lot about fish lately and how good it can be for you so as I popped my head into the freezer this morning to pull something out for dinner, the fish caught my eye.  When I pulled it out I didn’t know what to make but the end result was delicious.

It’s a simple dish that can be thrown together after work or pulled out for an elegant dinner party.   I served it with baked provincial tomatoes on the side and they worked nicely with the dish.  Next time some grilled zucchini might make the menu.  Enjoy!

Poached Hake on Spinach with a White Wine Reduction

Ingredients:

  • 4 hake fillets
  • 1 bottle of white wine (I used Chardonnay)
  • 14 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp herbs de provence
  • baby spinach
Instructions:

  • Cut your hake into medium size pieces that are as uniform as possible.  
  • Place in the bottom of a large deep pan.  I used a dutch oven. 
  • Cover with the white wine and the thyme. 
  • Cook on medium heat until finished for approximately 18-23 minutes.  Check often to ensure that the fish does not overcook.
  • Once the fish is finished remove fish from pot, leaving the liquid behind. 
  • Place fish in casserole dish and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. 
  • Add the Herbs de provence to the liquid and continue cooking so it can reduce.  Stir occasionally to get a sense of how well it is reducing.
  • After it has reduced a bit, remove a spoonful of the liquid and place it in a wok or frying pan.   
  • Remove the thyme from liquid.  Continue reducing.
  • Cook the spinach in the wok or frying pan until it has wilted but is not soggy. 
  • Remove spinach from heat and set aside. 
  • When the liquid has sufficiently reduced into a thick, creamy sauce, remove from heat and strain into a small bowl to ensure any flakes of fish are removed from the sauce. 
  • To plate the dish, place a handful of spinach on the plate.  Top the spinach with a piece of hake.  Drizzle a small amount of the sauce over the hake. 
  • Enjoy!
Extra Information:
  • This may sound complicated but it’s actually quite simple.   Once you get started it’s really just a matter of watching things to make sure everything is on track.
  • Once you’ve reduced the liquid there will be very little sauce left but that’s okay, the sauce is quite flavorful and you only need a little to create the desired effect.