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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Two-tiered Chocolate Zucchini Yogurt Cake with Raspberry Yogurt Icing

Let me start off by saying I am very proud of this cake and its very long name.  This dessert represents a culmination of practicality and taste, the first because I got to use up so much stuff from my fridge, and the second because of the amazing deliciousness of combined raspberry and chocolate flavours.

The idea for this cake was born on Sunday night when I was bored at home.  I was feeling guilty for having so much stuff in the mini fridge that my roommate Britt and I share, and was in one of my inexplicable baking moods (normally these happen at around 9:15 p.m. on a school night).  In the fridge, I had a tub of plain yogurt that was very near expiration date, so I knew I had to use that up.  Since zucchini has become my favourite vegetable, I decided I might as well go all out and make a zucchini cake.  Google is the most wonderful tool for finding strange recipes.  This recipe came from the site Cooper’s Kitchen (this dude Cooper apparently has his own show) and was absolutely perfect for what I wanted to do.

Once my cake came out of the oven, it struck me that I needed to whip up some icing.  Since I also had a large amount of raspberry yogurt left, I trolled the Internet some more before setting on the raspberry yogurt icing recipe that I adapted for this cake.  I had a mini Hilary baking freak out after the icing was done since it was kind of liquidy still, but this was quickly fixed by a morning of refrigerated glory.  I didn’t have fresh raspberries to put on my cake, so I decided to pipe dollops of raspberry jam on top of it.  Way to use my problem solving skills, right?

When I was at my part-time job on Monday, I was talking to my co-worker Natalie about this most recent baking adventure.  I quickly rhymed off the name of the cake, and watched in horror as she crinkled her nose in disgust.

Apparently she thinks that yogurt and zucchini do not go together in a cake.

With the desire to quash Natalie’s uncertainly, I brought in a huge chunk of cake the next day to share with everyone in the office.  As I carried my tupperware container of cake across campus, I fumbled while putting on my mittens, dropping the tupperware and allowing the cake to somersault away from me.  By the time I made it to the office, the cake was a mess, and I had to carefully scrape icing off the lid and reapply it to the cake.  As I presented each of my co-workers with a piece of cake, I also showed them pictures of what my cake looked like pre-drop.  They needed to know that I wasn’t a completely incompetent cake decorator.

In the end, the cake turned out awesome.  The raspberry icing was the perfect contrast for the chocolate cake which, although a tad dry, was still tasty.  Since both contained lots of yogurt and zucchini, I’m going to write this cake one off as a “healthy meal” in hopes of justifying the fact that I ate it for breakfast two days in a row.

Recipe: Two-tiered chocolate zucchini yogurt cake with a raspberry yogurt icing
Cake
See recipe on Cooper’s Kitchen.

Raspberry yogurt icing
– 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
– 4 cups icing sugar
– 1/2 cup raspberry yogurt
– 1 tsp. vanilla extract
– 1/4 cup raspberry jam

Using a hand mixer, cream together butter and sugar.  Add yogurt and vanilla and blend until smooth.  Using a piping bag (or a Ziplock bag) pipe small dollops of jam onto the cake.

Ratatouille with Pesto Crumble

I’m baaaaaaaaaack!  Two week hiatus?  Officially over.

This ratatouille was good enough to almost convert me to vegetarianism.  Get this: the only thing in this dish was zucchini, tomatoes, red pepper, eggplant, onion, and feta cheese (Mmmmm).  I hope you’re impressed mom.  Considering I haven’t had time to really eat anything in the past week, this ratatouille was a wonderful vacation away from the occasional bowl of Cheerios and leftovers to which I have lately become accustomed.  For anyone wanting a cheap and easy winter meal, this is the recipe for you.

Ahh, but of course there is an inspiration behind this meal…

I’ve been wanting to make this recipe ever since watching the animated movie Ratatouille a few weeks ago.  For anyone who hasn’t seen the film, it is the adorable tale of Remy the rat, a culinary connoisseur living in Paris.  Throughout the movie Remy, and his helpless-in-the-kitchen human friend Alfredo, dazzle the kitchen of a French restaurant.  At the end of the movie, Remy and Alfredo make ratatouille and melt the heart of a stone cold food critic.  Probably my favourite animated movie ever.  The clip below is from when Ego (the appropriately named food critic) is served Remy’s final dish.  Also, don’t you just love how perfect everything looks in Pixar movies?  Vegetables without a single blemish, the cutest little people, and bubbling soups that look like lava.

Also notable: this is my first time EVER trying eggplant.  Prior to this meal, I only knew it as that fairly attractive purple squash-shaped thing that sat atop the zucchini section.  Now I know it as a spongy piece of heaven with a chewy consistency.  Quite a wonderful discovery if I do say so myself.

PS: Feta is the most delicious thing in the universe.
PPS: I wasn’t sure how this pesto crumble thing would turn out, but the basil complimented the flavours of the vegetables and added a nice texture to the whole thing.  Good call Canadian Living.

Homemade Beef Stew

Hello everyone, remember me?  I know, its been awhile.  No, my blog is not dying, so for all you shaking your head’s out there, stop it right now!!  Rather, I’ve just been really busy with classes and such.  I had two huge assignments due today and yesterday, and we’ve now started newsroom days for radio, which complicate things a tad more

But enough with my complaints!  Lets get on to what you actually want to read about…

Okay, so at this point I’ve finally accepted that the cold fall weather is here to stay.  Ever since the Halloween blizzard, it’s like some signal went off in my brain making me crave only two things: chili and stew.  Not having made anything decently healthy for awhile, I thought making my mom’s homemade recipe for the latter would be a great way to get my protein and veggie intake.  A more important factor contributing to this decision was that I forgot my grocery list when I went to the store (never a good mistake), and stew is a very good improvisation “I don’t know what the hell I’m buying” dish.

My dear roommate Brittany also coincidentally decided to make stew last night.  Bubbling away on the stove, our stews brewed and sizzled – creating a symphony of smells in our cramped kitchen.  Though the cooking time on a recipe like this is rather long (see instructions below, don’t plan on making this in a rush!), it turned out to be worth it in the end.  My improvised recipe ended up making five servings of warmth and love.  It pains me a bit to type this post, since I’ve now had stew for two meals in a row and am kind of sick of the thing.  Perhaps I’ll move on to chili next and leave my leftovers in the freezer for a bit…

Cute little freezer leftovers

Homemade Beef Stew
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 500 g stewing beef (basically beef cut up in squares at the grocery store, it’s amazingly cheap)
– 1 onion, chopped
– 2 cups beef broth, water or a combination of the two
– 4 carrots, sliced
– 2 large potatoes, diced
– 1/4 cabbage, chopped
– 1 zucchini, sliced
– 1 teaspoon dried thyme

The instructions for this one are pretty simple: fry meat with oil until brown.  Once browned, add onion and pour 1 cup of the liquid over the meat.  Bring to boil and let sit simmering for 45 minutes, or until beef is tender.  Add carrots, potatoes, cabbage and remainder of liquid. Let cook for 20-30 minutes.  Within the last 5 minutes of cooking, add zucchini.  Sprinkle with thyme and serve.  Enjoy!