Summer’s End- Tomato Tart with Creamy Basil Filling (Vegan)

Nothing says rewarding like harvesting home grown vegetables and transforming them into a recipe.  Although the garden was started later in the spring and I did cheat by just buying a beefsteak tomato plant. Even though the plant looked healthy, maybe it was not the best quality because the tomatoes had a fibrous grainy texture which did not make it the best raw munching experience. It also developed some very sad blight fungus. Despite my efforts to remedy it with a solution of baking soda, vegetable oil and water many of the precious branches and leaves had to be removed. It came at a cost of trying to keep it organic and pesticide free. On the positive side, the blight did not affect the tomatoes. Continue reading

Caponata Stew

Caponata stew

The biggest thing I love about cooking is that a delicious, healthy and appealing dish doesn’t have to involve many expensive ingredients or fancy processes of preparation. Caponata stew is one of those impressing dishes that has become the go-to meal for me recently. It’s easy to prepare and it will take up any of the vegetables you want to empty out of your fridge.  This recipe is from Laura Vitale’s  videos.

From what was found on google, caponata is a traditional Sicilian dish which is often eaten as a side dish, but also as a main dish.  It consists mainly of eggplants, olives, onions and herbs. However, for your reference this recipe is by no means a traditional one.

Caponata Stew
Serves: 5

Adopted from Laura Vitale but the same idea of veggies stewed in tomatoes is still kept. Very small changes to the amounts of the vegetables used, olives were omitted because I never have them at home, also omitted hot pepper flakes, vinegar (because the tomato sauce is already acidic) and red wine.

few tablespoons of oil for cooking vegetables
1 cup chopped carrots
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium-sized onion (or 3 shallots)
1 1/2 large bell pepper (you can mix up different colours)
1 large eggplant, chopped
1/2 cup marinated artichokes
~25 ounces (725 mL) of canned  tomato sauce
1/2 cup water (optional, used to lightly dilute tomato sauce)
1 tbsp brown sugar
a handful of raisins
salt and pepper to taste
dried or fresh basil to taste

1. Use enough oil to cook all the vegetables except for the artichokes in a pot or a cooking pan that will be able to hold all the ingredients together. Cook on medium-high heat for about 8-10 minutes or until they begin to soften. Cooking everything in one pot will help make cleaning a lot easier.

2. Season with salt and pepper. Add in tomato sauce, artichokes,water and raisins. Let it cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes with occasionally stirring, or until the stew is thick and vegetables are tender.

3. Add in sugar and season with salt/pepper/basil.

4. Serve hot and enjoy. Leftovers can be refrigerated and frozen.

It’s hearty, filling and definitely something of a comfort food which is why I think it would be great for a holiday meal. You can have caponata with bread, pasta, noodles, in lasagna, and with other vegetables. Add in whatever else you desire. I am planning on adding cooked beans to this next time.

Days until Christmas: 4

Books Galore at the Biggest Bookstore

Happy Thursday! The weather is finally clearly up from all the humidity and the heat-alert frenzy. It is so crisp out today and it’s nice to have some gloominess hiding the scorching sun for a change. I have been home-bound since the beginning of the week scrambling together a major essay. Or should I say, procrastinating. Anyhow, I signed up for another 5k in August that will take place in Toronto. I was planning to participate in the Toronto Women’s 10k run prior to the notice but that can be left for another time.

This morning in class the A.C. was colder than usual. Has anyone else heard that decreased body temperature produces more melatonin, and better sleep? I was yawning until class the professor called it an end. In need of something steeeaming hot, I ventured to a new café. The atmosphere is so unique. I love the old-fashioned designs and the classiness.

Continue reading

Tofu Caprese Pasta Salad

After dinner tonight I took a half an hour walk around the neighbourhood. The weather was just right. I’m slowly trying to incorporate daily walks each day after dinner. My neighbourhood is a relatively young one, always with young children and parents on street sides. The things I overhear the kids say always crack me up on the inside. While I strolled along into a little forest trail, a few boys shouted “KAWKAW! KAWKAW!” and all kinds of bird noises to establish their positions among the trees. Ain’t that the cutest thing 🙂

Dinner was very simple and included a zing of pesto. I grabbed this baby at Costco yesterday upon seeing how green and fresh looking it was.

 I boiled 1 cup of pasta shells and 1/2 cup of whole wheat macaroni. After they were drained, I drizzled some olive oil. Then I cut a 300g block of extra firm tofu into small cubes. They marinated with pesto sauce + extra olive oil for about 3 1/2 hours in the refrigerator only because I had time. I usually skip the marinating.  After marinating, I heated the tofu over a pan on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes just until they were thoroughly heated. I added them to the pasta, but I left out some of the oil that separated out from the heating.

Spinach was washed and dried, chopped finely and added to the pasta. I also added some grape tomatoes and probably used around 20 or 25. And seasoned with salt, pepper and some fresh lemon juice.

Tofu Caprese Pasta Salad
Serves 5-6

1 1/2 cup pasta, uncooked
300g extra firm tofu, cubed (about 2 cups)
1 1/2 to 2 cups spinach, finely chopped
3 1/2 to 4 tbsp pesto
1 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halve or quartered
olive oil
salt and pepper
a squeeze of lemon

  1. Cook pasta for 8 to 9 minutes. Drain and add a drizzle of olive oil to keep them from sticking to each other. 
  2. Drain the tofu, and cut into small cubes. In a container, mix the tofu with pesto sauce, add in extra olive oil if wanted. Marinate for 3 1/2 hours (but you don’t have to). Cook the tofu over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes until they are thoroughly hot. Add to the pasta. 
  3. Chop up the spinach into fine pieces and add to pasta. 
  4. Slice grape tomatoes into halves or quarters, depending on the size. Add to pasta. 
  5. Season well with salt, pepper and the juice of about 1/4 of a lemon. 

Work It Tabata and Pesto Wonderland

I have no idea how Spider Tech strips work but I’m wearing my free samples the day after the 5k anyway. It is said to help prevent pain and cramping…and I need some relief. I believe they are only good for one-time uses.

Yesterday morning I wanted to do some form of exercise but didn’t want to dress up for going out. Planning to start in the morning it held out until late afternoon. Boo…I need to work on implementing into my daily routine while I still can. I found a Tabata cardio video from Amanda Russell’s workouts, it was short and effective. Why didn’t I know about Tabata earlier? Continue reading

Monday to Wednesday foodie recap

I started off the day with a good swim. It was refreshing to get back into the water. Although I work at the swimming pool, and instruct lessons weekly I don’t have time to actually swim lanes. I realize that keeping up with the daily running routine has helped to increase my endurance a lot more.  After swimming, I visited some family friends, had a light lunch and awed over a trio of adorable baby lovebirds. Continue reading

GoodLife Toronto Marathon 5k and Mini Pizza Tart Appetizers

Next week on May 6th I will be running my first 5k. I’m glad that I have a friend who agreed to participate with me 🙂 My training was quite inconsistent and probably not the most efficient.  I did my best to squeeze in time for workouts whenever I could while school took its toll. Now that school has finished (not once and for all) I can have some more time to focus on the race to come. I am a fan of Amanda Russell’s workouts since I found her on Youtube. Her workouts are easy enough to do at home and equipment free.

I wanted to follow a training plan that I found on Pintrest months ago, but I realized that it was already too late to start the 8 week regimen. I’m sure it will keep be busy during the bare months of summer ahead of me.

A few weeks ago at work, it was my turn to bring snacks for everyone. I found something like this on Reader’s Digest and jumped to it 2 hours before work that day.  I probably should have made more because everybody enjoyed it more than I thought they would 🙂 Continue reading

Veggie Medley Spaghetti

I was exited to try out a veggie spaghetti recipe. Mostly, I wanted to find a new use for the container of left over squash . With no grocery shopping, what did I have in the fridge and pantry that was dinner-material worthy? The ingredients below— zucchini, mushroom, broccoli, squash, marinara sauce, cheese and Parmesan. Sounded like Italian for dinner!
I also found some soba noodles which may have been expired…I caught of glimpse of the ingredients “wholewheat flour, buckwheat flour…..” and decided it would be a good addition of fibre to the spaghetti. They probably have an expiration date, but they didn’t taste stale to me.
Need I say more? This flavourful and colourful throw-together reflects how delicious (and nutritious) vegetarian dishes can be.

Herbed Foccacia

Herbed Foccacia
Adapted from Teenage Taste
Yield: 12-16 pieces

1 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup olive oil and additional
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp sea salt and additional for sprinkling
zest of 1/3 of a lemon

1. Add yeast and sugar into water. Let stand for 10 mins.
2. Mix together flours. When yeast is ready, add to the flour. Add in olive oil too. Mix until dough forms and knead 2-3 mins.
3. Rub 2-3 drops of olive oil in hand and rub it on dough. Cover and leave it to rise for 1 hour.
4. After it has rise, press into pan. Cover and let it rise again for 1 hr.
5. Press into the dough with fingers. Spread additional oil and add black pepper, salt, basil, and zest.
6.Bake 15-20 mins at 425 degrees F.