Chicken pad thai (AKA the chopping olympics)

Oh hello.  Yes, I’m still here.  Blog updates have been sparse, I realize that, but I am still eating and am very much alive.  I just haven’t had time to write about it.  But here we are.

Making this meal made me wish I could chop veggies like the experts (seriously, check this out!!).

As was forewarned by the Canadian Living recipe that inspired this meal, this pad thai required quite a bit of vegetable chopping.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, though.  My dinner positivity came primarily in the form of our amazing garlic mincer, which meant I didn’t have to painstakingly mince six cloves of garlic while leaning over the counter in desperation.  It is my favourite kitchen utensil at the moment, and a god among all other chopping devices.  Get one.  Your life will be changed.

As for the dish itself, pad thai always produces the most crippling post-dinner stomach aches and, as a result, evening plans are often altered to include anywhere from 1-3 hours of lying around like a shlump.  This meal was no exception, and I sat off my food baby by watching an Alfred Hitchcock film at the Mayfair with Ariel.

The meal may have been drowsiness-from-so-much-food inducing, but it was definitely worth it.  The sauce was reminiscent of the pad thai I get at my favourite local Thai hangout, Siam Kitchen.  I think I’m even starting to like cilantro, and the fresh scent and taste of the herb worked perfectly here.

I have three meals worth of pad thai remaining, meaning that my mouth is already watering in anticipation of today’s leftover lunch (kind of thinking I’ll eat early…).  The chopping olympics are over, let the pad thai-eating olympics begin!

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Linguine with a creamy pesto, yogurt and zucchini sauce

Earlier this week I had the most uncontrollable pesto craving.

I don’t know what happened.  I was just sitting in the office one day when it struck me.  It was like tiny pesto gods had inception-ed my mind.

Meanwhile, in a galaxy far, far away, the zucchini gods were plotting a similar plan.

The incident occurred shortly after the pesto episode.  I had no choice.  Zucchini and pesto for supper it was.

The result of my afternoon cravings

As soon as the workday ended, I biked promptly to the nearest grocery store, eager to get these two foods in my stomach as fast as I could.  Pesto and zucchini were purchased and happiness was almost within my grasp.  I was going to buy fresh Parmesan to load on top of my pasta, before realizing that a small block cost approximately one hour’s worth of pay.  One day my cheese purchases will put me in the poorhouse, but that day has not yet come.

Aside: Let me take a quick moment to discuss a very serious health condition.  People with PSGSBS (painfully slow grocery store browsing syndrome) should be avoided at all costs.  Those stricken with this condition tend to come out immediately during post-office work hours and insist on standing in the middle of aisles, in front of the bananas, and in the baking section.  Seriously, I have no patience for grocery store pondering, and dodge the PSGSBS’ as fast as I can.  I still have my helmet on from biking, so if any of them get rabid I can escape unharmed.

ANYWAYS

Since the grocery store sold out of bowtie pasta (I saw a PSGSBS carrying three bags in her cart…), I settled on making my dish with linguine.  I had a whole pile of it lying around and decided it was time it made its dinner debut.

This was another one of those infamous “Hilary doesn’t really know what she’s doing” meals, hence the inclusion of plain yogurt in the sauce.  It was a miracle that it worked out (to be fair, a quick Google search showed that I wasn’t completely crazy.. apparently pesto and yogurt sauce is a thing).

Dinner ended with an incredibly happy Hilary and a completely satisfied pestocchini craving.  Major omnomnoms.

PS: seriously, this was so good and was so fast to make!!
PPS: I am THE WORST at estimating how much pasta I need.  I made enough pasta to feed an Italian army.  There is still some in the fridge that I have been picking at for snacks.  Yes, I eat cold pasta as a snack.  Resume head shaking.
PPPS: I really love these pictures.

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An on-the-fly dinner for guests: fresh asparagus pasta with sun dried tomatoes and mini lime cheesecakes

I enjoy stressing myself out.

Last Wednesday night I invited my former roommate Alex over for a “lets catch up on each others lives and gossip shamelessly” sesh.  Obviously dinner was to be included.  I don’t have guests over any other way.

In hindsight, I probably should have realized that weekday evening dinners are a little chaotic.  Throw in a guest, an after work grocery shop via bike and backpack and my great need to make an extravagant, three-course meal, and you have a potential meltdown on your hands.

But not tonight.

I hope you are partially impressed by the fact that this meal was completely prepared within an under-two-hour time span.  FYI: that includes the grocery store trip and a painful, construction filled bike commute.

#awesome

For the main course,  a spaghetti dish I found on tastespotting, made with fresh pasta (ever since I was a child I’ve had a unparalleled love of uncooked, fresh pasta… much pre-dinner snacking occurred), peas, asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes.  For someone who had never tried the latter two ingredients before, this was a make-it-or-break-it meal for me.  The chopped asparagus tasted like the stalks of broccoli and the sun-dried tomatoes were like slabs of dried ketchup.  This may sound gross, but I actually enjoyed it profusely.

Leftover goat cheese also made an appearance.  Happiness ensued.

If anything, the dessert was the most chaotic part of this meal.

Time was of the ultimate importance, which is why I chose to make these no-bake cheesecakes.  The recipe, which I adapted ever so slightly from Canadian Living, suggested I refrigerate everything for long periods of time.

Translation: if you are short on time, just pop everything in the freezer for an hour.  Voila, a dessert prepared and set in the blink of an eye.  Add some poorly cut lime slices and peel, and you have the cutest little cheesecakes you’ve ever seen.

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Mother’s Day and dad’s birthday, served up in one family feast

My mom and dad sure have a talent for celebration co-ordination.

Mom (don't mind the beached whale of a pitbull in the background)
Dad (sorry - I had nicer pictures but Garrett insisted I use this one)

Huh?  Let me explain…

As you know (if you are good little sons and daughters), yesterday was mother’s day, the holiday where you are meant to wine, dine and brunch your dear ol’ mum to her heart’s content.  Also accompanying the Sunday festivities, however, was my dad’s Friday birthday.  See, celebration co-ordination, requiring a double whammy of gifts and cards galore.

The other peak of festivity in my household falls in early September, thanks to my parents having decided to get married on my mom’s birthday.  A few years ago her 50th birthday corresponded with their 20th wedding anniversary.  Guess who played grade 10 party planner?

But anyways, NBD.  It’s fun, and it means that I can hit up two holidays with one hometown return.

It also gives me a shameless excuse to make food for my family.

What was on the menu? Check it out below.

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Gruyere Mac and Cheese

WARNING: If you do not like copious amounts of wonderful butter, cheese and heavy cream in your main dishes, then you probably won’t enjoy this post.

For the rest of you, welcome to my incredibly satisfying, highly fattening Tuesday night supper.

I’ve said it once, but I’ll say it again.  GRUYERE.  My GOODNESS.  How can one small ingredient wield such amazing flavours?  It’s miraculous and fantastic.  If gruyere and brie had a love child I would either marry it or eat it.

I wanted to make one main course dinner meal for my family before leaving for Ottawa this weekend.  Since I’m getting my wisdom teeth out tomorrow and will likely be unable to do anything but drool deliriously and be fed jello through a straw, I figured today was a good day to make it.  I also made dessert, which I’m scheduling to post in a few days, so stay tuned for that.

While Annie’s Eats is my absolute favourite blog for getting dessert recipes and ideas, I’d never made any of her main courses before.  I changed two little things from her original recipe.  The first was buying gruyere cheese instead of fontina cheese (I’ve never heard of this type of cheese before, what is it?!) and the second was using normal bread crumbs versus these special panko ones.  This recipe was one that I had inadvertently bookmarked on three separate occasions (sadly true, I counted), so I decided I finally had to make it.  Something that’s wonderful about cooking for your family?  Your mom buys all the ingredients.  That’s right, say hello to $15 worth of gruyere cheese!  And fresh parmesan.  Grocery shopping is a glorious experience when you’re not paying for it.

This was also just a really fast dinner to make.  At approximately 4:54 p.m. this evening, my mom strolled into the living room to find me curled up on the arm chair reading, a position which I had held for approximately five hours that day.  She informed me that supper needed to be ready for 5:30 at the very latest, since everyone would be absolutely famished.  Mission accomplished.  At around 5:27 p.m., the casserole dish of bubbling pasta was rushed up to my bedroom to be photographed.  Why my bedroom?  Well I’m the only room on the west side of the house and the winter light was fading fast.  Also, I had already prepared a mini photo studio for this meal by my window, involving a charming wicker table from the spare bedroom and an old folded apron.  ‘Nuff said.

Verdict: THIS WAS AWESOME.  So creamy.  So cheesy.  I have such a stomach ache now from mac and cheese and the dessert that shall not yet be named.  I need to fast as of 10 p.m. tonight, so it best be on a full stomach!

PS: I’m kind of really fond of these pictures.  Not so much the one of the entire casserole dish, but I love the ones of my plate.  Perhaps that wasn’t a very modest comment.  Oh well.

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