The breakfast-for-dinner, three egg (wannabe) skillet

As a student, I feel obliged to claim breakfast-for-dinner as one of my favourite things. Living with two roommates who make delicious-looking, healthy pancakes for nearly every meal, I’m frequently reminded of how much I’m craving early-morning food. Late last week, this craving was uncontrollable. I had no choice but to search page upon page of Tastespotting until I found some new fangled breakfast recipe.

Success was achieved in the form of this fantastic chickpea, tomato and roasted red pepper breakfast skillet. Utilizing the exact ingredients I had lying around (including a two-month-old [but still good] jar of roasted red peppers), this meal came together in a flash.

A few lessons learned:
– Parchment paper cannot be broiled. I think I almost lit it on fire.
– Like parchment paper, glass corningware is also not content with being broiled. I ended up cooking this in a wannabe skillet (hence the name), aka a metal pie pan with aluminum foil lining the base.

In other news, broiled eggs are the best thing in the universe. Maybe it’s just me, but eggs that are a little solid on the outside and soft and runny on the inside are just perfect. In fact, I wish I had covered this entire skillet with egg. I will know for next time.

This simple dinner dish ended with sliced avocado and twelve grain toast. A culmination of my favourite things.

And now, a sad excuse…
I’m lacking superb pictures for this meal simply because Mother Nature was conspiring against me. I made this meal one night when the clouds were as dark and ominous and the sun was running off for its early, 6:30 p.m. retreat. To counter this, I brought my skillet out onto the sidewalk to take advantage of the fleeting moments of light.

About two seconds and many awkward passers-by stares later and the sky opened up and the downpour began.

I bolted up the stairs and onto the porch, enjoying my breakfast as the day faded into night.

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Kicking off soup season with a chicken barley soup

This post is dedicated to my dear boyfriend Matt, who is currently under the weather. Earlier today he disclosed to me a tragic tale about how he unwillingly needed to leave his house in order to purchase soup. Matt, this is the soup you can imagine that I’m to serving you. It tasted delicious. Enjoy, you sickie.

Now…

To many, fall means sweaters, boots and piles upon piles of leaves. While a serious fan of both the former and the latter, one of which allows me to reach optimum fashion levels (I really like layered clothing and black tights) and the other of which lets me to relive my ever-fleeting childhood, neither is what I think of immediately as autumn approaches. Nope, to me fall (and winter and early spring) is all about soup. With that, I officially declare that soup season has begun. It is not to end until the snow melts in the spring. That’s an order.

The best part about soup? It’s the king of all improvised foods. It lets you toss in absolutely anything, more specifically a large quantity of the pearl barley that I’ve had sitting in my pantry for about a year. To maximize the simplicity of this self-created recipe, I bought half a pre-cooked chicken from the deli section of my local grocery store. After a quick bike ride home my backpack smelled like a thousand Swiss Chalet branches. The dogs will be following me home from school, I know it.

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Portobello mushroom burgers with provolone cheese and red pepper mayonnaise

It should be illegal for something to taste this good.

Here’s a hint to all you readers (hello, anyone out there? Mom, is that you?): if I post something the day I made it, then you know it was just so incredible that I needed to share it with the world right away.  This was one of those meals – the type that makes you lean back in your chair and emit “oohhh” and “ahhh” sounds with every bite.

This meal was also good enough to make me actually consider vegetarianism as a plausible lifestyle.  I’m serious – the only thing that was holding me back from kicking the cow (forgive me) all together was the fact that I love, adore and live for beef burgers.  Today, July 12, 2011, an alternative was found.  Portobello mushroom caps have a naturally meaty texture and are way more flavourful than the traditional burger.  And god knows I eat enough quinoa that I don’t need the protein…

Anatomy of a portobello mushroom burger

Anyways, these burgers were unreal, and perfectly in sync with my current portobello mushroom phase.  The recipe was inspired by the August issue of Canadian Living (which I managed to rescue from the piles of mail at my old house…I really need to get my address changed).  As an aside, you can always tell which recipes I’ve made in books or magazines, since the page is absolutely destroyed with oil stains and food residue by the time I’m done.  Oh the memories.

Post de-gilling

Now, if you’ve been reading for awhile, you’ll notice that I frequently express my love for preparing certain foods.  In the past, I’ve said I love slicing zucchini, peeling avocados and cutting bouncy eggplants, among many other equally as strange things.

I can now add another neurotic food preparation love to that list: de-gilling a portobello mushroom cap.  It really is a whole lot of fun (this may speak a lot to the type of life I have).  You gently snap off the mushroom stem and use the side of a spoon to hull out the gills (you know, the fun underside of a mushroom that you always want to run your fingers against).

Hey, don’t judge my strange obsessions. You don’t truly love food unless you love every part of it – gills included.  There’s a life lesson for you, kids.

PS: The broil feature on my oven has changed my life.  It’s like a BBQ without the aesthetically-pleasing grill lines.
PPS: The texture of a grilled portobello mushroom is what I imagine the skin of a dinosaur would feel/look like.

And of course, the more delicious a food, the messier it is to eat…

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Portobello pesto pizza (and a new start)

Today I am taking a defibrillator to my blog.

As you can see, blogging inactivity has become the norm for the past week or so.  Sure, sure, I have plenty of excuses.  Whether it was my flu/summer cold showdown, visits from my family and boyfriend, or trying out some new Ottawa restaurants, I’ve been rather busy.

I’ve also been uninspired.  The second half of June left me in a slump, and it was only two days ago that I decided to finally start journeying out of my rut.  Now that I have less than a month left in Canada before my big European adventure, I figured I should probably food blog all I can.  Before I know it, this blog will be transformed into a storybook of my travels and lofty international tales.  To say I’m excited would be an understatement.

Anyways, what better way to kickstart my July blog posts than with foods that I love?  Pesto, portobello mushrooms and so much cheese.  It was impossible to go wrong.  Oh right, and the crust was also infused with the garlic oil Brittany got me for my birthday.  All in all, this vegetarian, Natalie-friendly pizza is probably one of the best things I have ever made.

And who better to share it with than my future travel companion himself, Gord?

My handsome travel and dinner companion.

We gorged on this pizza, since we’re blissfully naïve and under the impression that we’ll somehow lose weight in Europe.  Hah. Good one, right?

Like I said above, this pizza was amazing.  Even when it was in the oven it smelt delicious.  Seriously, I thought I was going to have to take it out early and eat it in a cavewoman-like manner.  It was painful enough having to take my usual two dozen pictures pre-meal eating.  Gord had already shovelled half a piece into his mouth while I was still plating.  I can’t say that I blame him.

In the end, is there really anything more beautiful than portobello mushrooms?  I think I cried a bit when I was cutting these.  They’re just such a wonderful, meaty vegetable.  Okay, it’s happened – I’m officially romantically involved with a vegetable.

An iPhone picture I took in the midst of making the pizza. Please take a moment appreciate the pesto and portobello mushroom concealed beneath the cheese.

PS: I splurged on REAL Parmesan cheese to make this pizza.  I found a small, fairly inexpensive block and snatched it up before anyone could find it.  There is still half in the fridge.  Happy times will be had in future meals.
PPS: I couldn’t find any actual provolone cheese, so I used the slices that were packaged for sandwiches.  That’s okay, right?

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Chick Pea Burgers and VEGETARIAN WEEK

You know how in the last post I mentioned something about converting to vegetarianism?  Well it’s happening…for a week anyways.  Being a newbie at this whole vegetable eating thing, you might think this is a shocking statement.  For the next seven days I will be exploring all things non-meat-like in an adventure that will hopefully prove to be quite enlightening.  I have always been a lover of burgers, chili and (of course) pogos, but this week I am battling my inner carnivore instinct and keeping it green.

SPEAKING OF BURGERS…As my second “vegetarian stint” meal, I decided to make a chick pea-inspired burger.  I really only tried chick peas for the first time last year and have since fallen in love with their meaty and delicious texture.  Also, hummus is just really, really good.  This chick pea burger recipe came from Canadian Living and allowed me to use up the half can of chick peas that I had chilling out in our fridge.  Even though I cut down the ingredients into a third of what was originally required, I still got three decently sized burgers out of the mix, one which I ate for breakfast this morning (hooray for early morning protein).  Since there is really nothing in the patty other than chick peas, rice, grated zucchini/carrot and bread crumbs, I’d say that the cost per burger ended up at probably around 75 cents.  Pretty dece, right?  Vegetarianism: making me more healthy AND more rich.  Love it!

Alright so keep checking back over the next week as I continue to share my “Vegetarian Week” menu with the blogging world.  Perhaps this will one day turn into vegetarian month…