Month: June 2013

Quick Breakfast

Spaghetti Squash with Ceylon Cinnamon & Honey

Ever roasted a spaghetti squash before? Super easy! 

Poke a bunch of slits into your raw squash with a knife. Put it in a pan, then into a 375 degree oven for an hour. Let it cool for just a little bit so you can cut it open without burning your fingers. Remove the seeds and the pulp, then scrape out the “spaghetti” with a fork. 

It’s got a mild squashy, veggie flavour. You can use it as a sub in pasta dishes, of course, but I was hungry and I just woke up so that makes this breakfast. Just a little good cinnamon and a tablespoon of honey mixed with about a cup of the squash. Tasty and healthy!

Civic Center Eats – Denver

Taco lengua & taco honcho from Pinche Taco, mango lassi from Little India, and an apple hand pie from the Denver Pie Truck for dessert. Nom! #foodtruck #lunch #civiccentereats

Spicy Harissa Shrimp

Harissa spiced shrimp and veggies

9 medium tail on shrimp
four mini sweet peppers, sliced
1/3 cup chopped shiitake mushrooms
1/3 cup chopped portobello mushrooms
1/4 red onion,
1/2 of a large tomato, chopped
2 tsp harissa
1 T olive oil
sea salt to taste

warm the olive oil on a medium high heat. when it gets shimmery, toss in the shrimp and saute for about 2 minutes, then season with salt and 1 tsp of the harissa. stir well to coat, then add the onions and saute for another minute or so. then you can throw in the rest of the veggies, season with another good pinch of salt and the rest of the harissa, then turn the heat down to medium low. let it simmer for another 7 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have broken down and started creating a sauce. give it all a big stir to make sure everything is coated in the sauce, pour it in a bowl, and eat it.

serves 1 just like this, or probably two if you serve it over rice or couscous.

Heeere fishy, fishy…

Hi ya’ll!

So, this post was going to be later this weekend, and about something else entirely; but then, I went to the grocery store and they had whole, fresh trout on sale. I’m kind of a spur of the moment cook, so just like that I changed my mind. The decision to share this little roasted fish adventure occurred as I started remembering all the people who have expressed to me a certain sense of paralyzing fear trepidation at the idea of cooking fish. They tell me it seems “complicated,” or that they’re afraid of messing it up. I can understand that. When faced with the sight of this little guy looking up at you from behind the glass, it can be a bit discombobulating. 


You imagine that because it’s THE WHOLE FISH (zomg!) that there’s some special skill needed to turn it into dinner. Not so, my friends. Not so. In fact, I think it’s quite the opposite. Most fish takes barely any effort at all to become something not only delicious, but also pretty damn impressive looking on a plate. Let me show you…

Trout is just about my favourite fish ever to eat. It’s flavourful, and super low maintenance, as I shall now demonstrate.

Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees. In addition to Mr. Trout, you’ll need:

– aluminum foil
– a baking pan or cookie sheet
– olive oil
– salt and pepper
– a lemon
– a spatula or fish spatula or the ability to flip a whole roasted fish onto a plate in one move (actually easier than it sounds)

Then, get yourself a piece of aluminum foil about two feet long and lay it in a baking pan. 


I drizzled a little bit of olive oil on the foil and smeared it around a little bit. I used my (clean, of course) fingers, but if you don’t like to get stuff on your hands just use a pastry brush, or swirl the pan around until the olive oil is covering approximately a fish sized bit of real estate. Then, lay the fish down in the pan. 


You might notice that this fish is cut open along the bottom, but he still has his little fins and his tail (oh yeah, and his head). I’m not squeamish about any of those things, but if you are you have some options: 

1) you can ask your fish guy to trim off some of that stuff. Most of them are happy to do that for you, and some will even do it without rolling their eyes. Ignore the ones who do that. They’re just being a judgeypants and you’re allowed to have your fish however you want it.

2) you can trim it up yourself. A good pair of kitchen shears will take care of the fins and the tail, and a sharp chef’s knife or a solid (like you mean it!) thwack with a meat cleaver will decapitate Mr. Trout quite handily. 

I happen to like the way the whole fish looks in presentation, so I let him keep his dignity right up to the moment I start picking him apart and devouring him. 

Whole fish also has bones. Tiny ones. If the bones are an issue for you, it’s easier to de-bone a fish like this after it’s cooked. The flesh will pull away from the bones and the spine in one or two pieces on each side, and all those little pin bones should come out pretty easily. If you’re going to serve the fish bone-free, just make sure you do your de-boning work under good lighting because some of them can be almost invisible. 

(“de-boning” sounds naughty and because i’m 12 years old on the inside, makes me giggle a lot.)

Let’s carry on…

Just as with any other protein, seasoning is super important. At the minimum, you’ll want to season inside and outside with salt and pepper. If you want to get fancy and use herbs (fresh or dried) or your favourite seasoning blend, go for it! I used sea salt and a citrus pepper blend from Savory Spice Shop here in Denver:


A healthy sprinkle (again, don’t forget to season the inside, too!) of this stuff and the sea salt, and a couple of lemon slices stuffed inside, and we’re off to the races!


All we need to do now is drizzle the whole thing with a little more olive oil, squeeze some lemon juice over it, wrap it up, and slide it into the oven.

When you wrap the foil, you want to keep it loose. I usually bring the two long sides together, fold over (not very neatly) once or twice, roll up the sides (also, not with any precision in the least), and then scrunch down the top a little more. Here’s what mine looks like all wrapped up. You can be neater if you need to, but as long as it’s got some room to breathe in there you’re good to go.


Then, slide it into the oven. I let it roast all wrapped up like that for about 10-12 minutes, then I unwrap it a little bit to expose most of the fish body and slide it back in for about another 20 minutes so it gets a little more of that browned roasty look.

Annnnnd… here you go!


As you can see, the olive oil and the lemon juice combine with the liquid that comes out of the fish to form a kind of sauce. It’s delicious. Don’t throw it away. I recommend drizzling it over the fish when you serve it.

I forgot to run the dish washer so I didn’t have a clean spatula. I just used a fork to make sure nothing was sticking on the bottom, and then slid the whole thing onto my plate. I served it with a kale salad dressed with some cherry tomatoes and a lemon juice-olive oil-sea salt concoction.


This fish was about 8 ounces prior to cooking… and it yielded about 4.5 ounces of moist, delicious, flavourful fish flesh. 

So, seriously, not a lot of work at all, right? You can do this, right? I have faith in you. 

By the way, this isn’t the only whole fish that can be cooked using this method.  A 5-6 lb salmon cooked this way for about 45 minutes will serve 14 people with regular appetites, or 10 of the greedy kind. If you really want to wow your dinner guests, come to the table bearing a whole, roasted salmon surrounded by some equally fabulous roasted baby potatoes, on a big ole platter. Can you say high drama? They never need to know how very little work it was.

Go get yourself all tarted up!

We all know it’s important to eat breakfast. However, if you’re anything like me (please, just pretend), you’ve probably found yourself in a breakfast rut a time or two. You eat the same box of Special K Red Berries every day until you find yourself licking powdered strawberry dust from the bottom of the box off of your fingers, enough “egg in a cup” omelettes to make you cluck, or fruit-and-yogurt parfaits every day until no meal looks normal unless its components are served to you layered in a see through plastic cup… you catch my drift.

So I got all excited when I came across this March 2009 recipe from Food and Wine for Melissa Rubel Jacobson’s “Honeyed Yogurt and Blueberry Tart with Ginger Crust.”

I stared at the recipe for awhile. I looked at the picture. Then, it dawned on me—“That’s really just breakfast parfait pretending to be a dessert.”

With a few very minor modifications, I turned this already easy recipe into a cute little breakfast tart that you can make with stuff you probably already have in your fridge/pantry.

The ingredients for the filling remain the same as the original recipe. Strain 2 cups of plain, fat free Greek style yogurt in the fridge overnight.  Just dump the yogurt into a strainer lined with a paper towel (or a coffee filter, or cheese cloth).  Dock the strainer over a bowl to catch all the liquid that will drain out. This is what the yogurt looks like after it strained overnight and all day the next day, but just overnight is fine.


Or, maybe you can muster the motivation in the morning before work to get the straining action going, and then make it when you get home for breakfast the next morning. Either way. I’m not a control freak or anything. I’m not telling you how to live your life. Or, make your tart. 

Whenever you are doing it, before you start “cooking” (dumping and mixing) is a good time to preheat your oven to 350. 

Jacobson’s recipe includes a graham cracker crust with ginger. I think that sounds scrumptious; but I felt like I needed to use something a little more power packed if this was going to serve as both the first thing I eat in the morning and the thing that’s going to keep me from getting hungry until lunch. Soooooooo… I replaced the graham cracker crumb/ginger crust with granola. Lo and behold, I had just slightly less than a cup and a half of this lovely Bear Naked Fruit & Nut granola in my cabinet, so into the bowl it went. 


The original recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of butter, and a tablespoon of sugar. I cut out the sugar completely, and cut the butter down to just under 2 tablespoons. I keep a carton of egg whites in my fridge pretty much all the time for… reasons… so that ingredient was already on hand, as well. Three tablespoons of egg whites from a carton = 1 large egg white. If you don’t have egg whites in a carton, just get your egg white the old-fashioned way— you know, with an actual egg. 

Melt the butter and pour it over the granola. Then, in goes the egg white. Mix it all up. If you find that your mixture is a little “soupy” after all that, you can let it sit for 5 minutes to let the granola soak up some of the moisture (or just pour a little of the liquid off right away if you’re impatient like I am). 

I happen to have one of those removable bottom round tart pan things, so that’s what I used for my tart. If you don’t, just use a pie tin, or a brownie pan, or whatever you have handy that looks about right. Dump the granola into the pan of your choosing and smoosh it onto the bottom until it looks generally like a crust.


All smooth-like, slide the pan into your preheated (riiiiiiight?) oven for about 15-18 minutes. 

While the crust is becoming, uh, crusty, you can mix up your yogurt filling. It’s the easiest thing you’ll do all day. Dump the strained yogurt into a mixing bowl, then add your 2 tablespoons of honey. I also added about a teaspoon of grated lemon zest, because the spirit moved me. If nothing, spirit or otherwise, is moving you to grate lemon zest, I ain’t mad atcha.


Whatever you and the spirits decided to put in that bowl, mix it all up until it’s pretty smooth and all your ingredients are well incorporated.


Now you can wash your blueberries, and kinda pat them all dry so you don’t get weird blueberry water puddles in the top of your tart. 


When your timer goes off, or your gut tells you it’s time, pull the crust out of the oven. I know it doesn’t really look that different from the pre-baked crust in this picture, but I knew it was done because I touched the granola and it was totally dry, and felt like it was all one cohesive layer. It also looked a little more like a big granola cookie up close, instead of just mushy stuff smooshed into the bottom of a pan.


Turn your oven off. I always forget to do that.

Let the crust cool for about 10 or 15 minutes— however long your patience lasts. Then, pour the yogurt-honey mixture into the crust and spread it all around until it’s a layer that basically reaches all the edges of the crust.


Top with the blueberries, then drizzle a little (don’t go crazy!) more honey over the top just for drama. Also, because it’s fun to drizzle honey. 


Admire your handiwork. No, really, you just made a kick ass breakfast with dairy and fruit and good energy carbs and proteins and also it’s really pretty. You should pat yourself on the back.

If you’re going to eat it now, cut it up into wedges and have yourself some breakfast. If you plan on having it tomorrow morning, you can just stick it into the fridge. That’s what I did, and it was absolutely delicious the next day. Just a word of caution though— the crust will absorb the moisture from the yogurt. It still had a little crunch, but if you want it to retain that “right out o’ the oven” crispiness, you can bake off the crust and mix the filling the night before, but wait until the morning to put it all together just before you serve it.

I took mine to work and folks ate it, and thought it was delicious, and all that jazz. I got a lot of, “Is that cream cheese?” and when I told them the filling was made from fat free plain yogurt they were pretty stunned. See? Healthy doesn’t have to be boring and tasteless and no fun. 

P.S. You know that thing we did with straining the plain yogurt overnight? You can use that strained yogurt for a lot of other things, not just breakfast tart. For instance, this Roasted Garlic Tzatziki, which can be used as dip, or instead of mayo on a sammich, or on a baked potato, or in a wrap. 

Try it! It’s really quite tasty.