Green pepper, chicken and mushroom quinoa with a sweet chili sauce

Before I begin, let me just say that someone needs to create a website where you input the ingredients used in a meal and the site, in turn, churns out a shortened recipe name.  Sort of like a for recipes.  Until this fantastic site is created, my post names shall continue to be the length of a short story.  Apologies.

Fact: I totally forgot how much I loved cooking.

For the past two months I have been neglecting my love of homemade food.  This neglect has come in favour of studying (read: all I ate was bagels bought from Tim Hortons), food made by my aunt (which was delicious, but I was spoiled), or food bought from a variety of overpriced Toronto locations.  The latter made up most of my time in Toronto and, while I discovered a bunch of great new places, I really shouldn’t have been prematurely spending my summer income on gourmet vegan meals and mouthwatering cheesecakes.  But man, was it good while it lasted.

Now that I’m back in Ottawa for the summer (hooray!), I figured it was about time I got back to cooking.  I moved into a new house on Monday, which means that I am finally free of last year’s closet-sized kitchen and its oven that made the temperature in the depths of hell feel chilly.  I am now, however, limited by the fact that we only have a single pan and one very large stockpot.  We have no baking pans and no oven mitts.  Something will have to be done about that (the solution will likely come in the form of today’s IKEA trip with my friend Will).

But anyways, in the nature of me trying to get back into healthy eating, I headed down to the grocery store to stock up on veggies galore.  I kitchen improvised (something I want to do almost all the time now) with this meal, creating a supper that was filling, healthy and wielded a spicy kick.  Just the way I like it.

Also, NEWSFLASH: I like mushrooms!  I added some in for good measure.

See recipe under the pictures.  These shots were taken outside on my new porch.  I don’t even need to stand on a chair to take them.  Happiness achieved.

PS: check out how green our grass is – at least all this miserable weather paid off in the form of optimum yard colouring.

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Spring Chicken Salad with Pasta (and a troop of new vegetable friends)

It may have been the first day of spring in Ottawa yesterday, but apparently Mother Nature didn’t get the message.  Every form of precipitation known to mankind fell from the sky Monday, including a strange misty rain and tiny hail pellets.  Seriously, if there is something making our mythological season changer angry (Father Time cheated on her, etc., I don’t know), then it needs to stop.  I took out my bike on Sunday and it is now buried in snow. My sadness reaches epic proportions.

First day of spring in Ottawa: photo courtesy of The Weather Network

Trudging around in my winter boots again, I decided to defy Mother Nature and begin my spring cooking.  Well not quite. I’m not really sure what spring cooking is since this is the final season I must get through before my blog has its first birthday.  I figured this dinner recipe had the word “spring” in it and, for now, that was good enough for me.

Also, I just really wanted to cook and eat a real supper.  I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t been eating very well for the past few weeks.  I’ve been so busy with school and work that I’m only ever home to sleep.  Also, as some of you know I’m currently on the hunt for Ottawa’s best cupcake for the blog Local Tourist Ottawa, so that has been keeping my sugar intake high, and my health content low.  Must strive for healthy balance!  I biked to pick up cupcakes this past weekend, that sort of cancels out the sugar, right?  Maybe not. Fine, I’ll get better.

I saw this recipe on Tastespotting when I was browsing the site at school.  At this point I had officially decided I needed to eat real food, and was deciding what meal should mark my re-emergence into the world of health.  I found this recipe on the blog Zoom Yummy, and it looked simple and delicious.  Petra (blogger) had posted several pictures of the how-to instructions, and the stunning images made it look like a PWC blog post.  I truly admire people who can take pictures detailing every step of the cooking process.  I would not have the patience.  My goal is to minimize the PTM (pan to mouth) time as much as possible.

Anyways, lots of chopping with this one, so make sure you do it before you start cooking your chicken.

Also, have a little fun along the way:

The green onions were just begging to be doodled on. Come on, don’t try and tell me you wouldn’t do the same thing.  Also, they’re kind of reminiscent of my squash friend, n’est-ce pas?

(Aside: please don’t think I’m a complete weirdo, I just really like playing with my food).

Other than getting three new vegetable friends out of this recipe, I also got the perfect amount of pasta for last night’s supper and today’s lunch.  How dearly I have missed you leftovers!  The recipe itself was pretty good.  I love parsley so added in about double what the recipe requested…..also, I didn’t have any ground ginger, so that got omitted this time around.

Gosh I’m hungry now.  Might eat leftover pasta for breakfast.

Source: Zoom Yummy

Chicken Noodle Stir Fry

Well I have finally gotten sick of all the salads I’ve been making.

Even though all the salad main dishes I’ve made over the past two weeks have been delicious and healthy, I was craving something a little more substantial for last night’s dinner.  Searching through pages and pages of chicken recipes on Canadian Living’s website, I finally stumbled on this one for a chicken noodle stir fry.  Since this recipe was only the second stir fry I have ever made, I wasn’t 100% sure of how well it would work out.  All the ingredients were really simple, EXCEPT for baby bok choy.  Waltzing through the produce section of the grocery store, I found a tag for normal adult bok choy.  Alas, the adult’s baby was nowhere to be found, and I had to settle for using defrosted spinach as a disappointingly wilted alternative.

With the chicken marinated in a tasty soy sauce/sesame seed oil/garlicy mixture, and the added honey hoisin sauce at the end, this dish satisfied my every dinner desire.

Birthday dinner for dad

Adventuring outside the world of Kraft Dinner and foods made on tortillas used to be a challenge for me, however, I would like to think that I am very slowly becoming a bit more accomplished in the kitchen.  Anyways, my dad’s birthday is next week and since he will be in Sweden for the big day, we decided to celebrate a week early.  Obviously wanting to show off my newfound cooking abilities, I offered to make dinner and dessert for my dear old dad and the fam.  Thankfully, the meal turned out awesomely, and I managed to prevent the stove from lighting on fire.  I know, good job me.

I made two recipes from my nice, brand new cookbook, Canadian Living’s Everday Favourites cookbook, with which I am now completely enamored.  Here are the results of my afternoon labours…

Steak stir-fry with noodles
(Yes, in a shocking and unpredictable move I even ate the green peppers)…

Raspberry streusel coffee cake
(My dad loves raspberries, so this was the perfect grown-up birthday cake)…