Spicy pasta on a Sunday

Ah, Sunday. It’s my favourite day of the week. Neither of us work and we can spend the day together as a family, walking or napping, drinking coffee, making a nice meal, going to a movie or staying in and lounging around in pajamas. We had a nice, low-key day today and a pretty great supper tonight.

It was sunny and cold, but with Baby J bundled in his new one piece, tiger striped fleece suit, we took a stroll after morning nap (I didn’t say ‘his’ because I had one too) to our local coffee shop and wedged ourselves into the last table to sit at, us sipping coffees and him nibbling on a rice rusk and staring quietly from his stroller at the lively people around us.

Back at home we mostly hung out, let the little guy scoot and move and flip around. He’s trying to sit up from laying down (I think?) and it’s pretty funny to watch him practice whatever he’s trying to do. He lays sideways as if he’s stretching out at the beach and inches up til he accidentally flips right over. There was also some piano playing, exersaucer enjoyment, and catching up on emails and plans for the upcoming weekend. A nice, lazy day.

But the highlight was dinner time. I decided to make a simple pasta that we have from time to time since tasting it in Florence two years ago. My version isn’t the same level of deliciousness, of course, but it’ll do for a nice Sunday night in. We lit candles, used place mats and opened our last bottle of wine from our trip this summer to Niagara, so fancy. Baby J also enjoyed his carrots and plumsauce for dessert.

Spicy pasta with oil, garlic, red pepper flakes

Spicy Spaghetti with Oil, Garlic, and Red Pepper

3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced and mashed
1/4 cup plus 1 T olive oil
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

Cook spaghetti according to package directions – I used Capellini – until it is al dente. Drain.
Crush red pepper flakes and press or mash garlic, then mix together with olive oil. Dump into the hot spaghetti pot on low for about 2 minutes. Pour the sauce over the pasta, and toss.
Then put your tomatoes into the hot pot and let them cook for a couple of minutes.
Add pasta to plates and top with tomatoes.
*I added a bit of shredded Parmesan cheese too but didn’t really notice it. Definitely optional.

Spicy pasta with oil, garlic, red pepper flakes

Hoping everyone out there had a nice weekend, with good food and sunny skies.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches

With fall looming in the air – the clear blue summertime skies melting into cooler evenings now, autumn seems to be just around the corner. Every year I can’t believe how fast it goes, measuring time from Canada Day in July to the August long weekend ball tournament, but this year with a baby going from focussing to cooing to grasping, teething and rolling, the days have zipped by quicker than ever. I’ve really enjoyed being off, taking long carefree walks, chatting about everything baby with my cousin also on maternity leave, indulging in frappucinos in the evenings. Lots of family time, baby time, and slowly, a bit more cooking time.

This pulled pork crockpot recipe is fantastic. It’s a bit of work but can be done in the evenings, plopped into the slow cooker to simmer overnight, and it makes a ton of yummy pork for sandwiches or just to eat on it’s own. I’m not even a huge pork fan, but I love this recipe for it’s easiness and taste. And it feeds a lot of people.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
(from Canadian Living)

1.6 kg pork shoulder blade roast (I bought a ‘picnic’ roast)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground coriander
2 bay leaves (I skipped these. I always forget to take them out)
1/4 cup tomato paste (I use a whole tiny can)
1 can tomato sauce
2 tbsp packed brown sugar
2 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 green onions, thinly sliced (skipped)

Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. In Dutch oven (or frying pan), heat oil over medium-high heat; brown pork all over. Transfer to slow cooker.

Add onions, garlic, chili powder, coriander and bay leaves to Dutch oven (frying pan); cook, stirring often, until onions are softened, about 5 minutes.

Add tomato paste; cook, stirring, until darkened, about 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce, sugar, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce, scraping up any browned bits. Pour into slow cooker. Cover and cook on low until pork is tender, 8 to 10 hours.

Transfer pork to cutting board and tent with foil; let stand for 10 minutes. With 2 forks, shred or “pull” pork.

Meanwhile, pour liquid from slow cooker into large saucepan; skim off fat. Bring to boil over high heat; boil vigorously until reduced to 3 cups, 10 to 12 minutes. Discard bay leaves.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

We’ve brought this to people’s houses and eaten it at home too. It’s good just plain smack sandwiched in a bun, with a little extra sauce drizzled over the meat.

Happy beginning of autumn!

Roasted Vegetable Quinoa salad

I love quinoa. It’s funny to think that five years ago, I never heard of the stuff, and now I pick up a box practically every time I’m wandering through the organic aisle at the grocery store. The first time I made it, I hesitantly simmered it in chicken broth, added a bunch of spices, prayed it would taste ok (it didn’t, really). But there’s the Internet, and cookbooks, and this healthy food has become more than a fad experiment for me. Now we both scarf it down a couple of times a week, and it’s my go-to “filler” instead of rice or potatoes.

I haven’t posted a lot of recipes this summer (ok…this year…) but I have been cooking over the last couple of months and it’s high time to share a few of the best things I’ve made! This is hands down the best salad, and possibly the best meal, I’ve had all summer. I’ve made it once a week since I figured it out since it’s easy, delicious, and has leftovers. I would imagine you could toss in any veggies you had on hand, and it would still be good.

Roasted Vegetable, Cheese and Chorizo Quinoa Salad

Roasted vegetable Quinoa salad

3/4 cup quinoa
1.5 cups water
3 peppers, chopped (red, yellow, green)
1 zucchini, peeled and chopped
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
4 cups baby spinach
chorizo sausage, about a cup, sliced
Halloumi cheese (I used the PC Halloom cheese with herbs and garlic)
1/4 to 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

Add quinoa and water to a small saucepan, bring to a boil, then turn down and let simmer for 15 minutes. In the meantime, chop all your veggies: red pepper, green pepper, zucchini, tomatoes, place into a large bowl and drizzle 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar over top. Mix well. Chop sausage and cut cheese into cubes, then add to the veggies and mix.

Heat a bit of oil in a frying pan over medium heat, then add your vegetables, sausage and cheese. Cook until the peppers are tender and to your liking (about 10 to 12 minutes for me).

Mix the quinoa in a bowl with 4 generous handfuls of baby spinach, then add the veggie mix and stir. Here you can add more balsamic vinegar (up to a 1/4 cup, but a few drizzles will probably do).

Quinoa and vegetable salad

**You could also grill this beautiful mess of a salad in foil or a veggie tray on the barbecue and it would be delicious. I tend to get it all ready during afternoon nap time, and then stick the bowl of veggies in the fridge. Once Baby J was in bed for the night, I’d cook the quinoa and cook the veggies on the stove since it was dark out. This suited me better and tasted excellent.

The hallomi cheese is a bit pricey, but it really makes the salad and retains its shape while being grilled. If you wanted to skip it, tossing in some cubes of cheddar would probably work fine.


Roasted Vegetable Quinoa salad