Main dish


My love affair with chickpeas started in my first year of University. As a student living on campus and stuck with a meal plan, it was easy to get bored with the food pretty quickly. So I spent a good amount of time trying to eat salads (the only relatively healthy meal option available). And before I knew it, chickpeas became an integral part of my diet.

Chickpeas (otherwise known as garbanzo beans) are a great addition to meals. They are a great source of folic acid, fiber and protein to name a few. They can help lower cholesterol and improve blood sugar levels making them ideal for diabetics. They are often consumed from the canned variety. I certainly took a liking to them even after I moved off campus but discovered the economical and health benefits from just cooking dried chickpeas for yourself and that’s where this meal came in.

I keep a jar of dried chickpeas in my pantry whenever I need them. The process of cooking them from a dried state is this:

How to cook chickpeas/garbanzo beans

1. Soak the chickpeas in room temperature water overnight. Change the water if needed.

2. Fill a large pot with water. Put in the chickpeas. Make sure there’s about 2-3 cups of water for every 1 cup of chickpeas that you are cooking.

3. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to a slow simmer.

4. Leave for about 1 hour +, checking on the doneness and tenderness of the chickpeas.

5. Use as you’d like.

It’s a fairly simple process. I’m not entirely sure it’s the exactly correct way to cook them so if anyone has better suggestions let me know as I based it off of the instructions I could find (but of course everything has variations so it’s hard to determine who is right)

Along with my chickpea obsession at this time, I was also obsessed with corn. I bought several cans of corn and decided for this meal to create a spicy fried rice with the chickpeas and the corn.


I’d provide a more solid recipe but to be honest, I just threw in whatever I had on hand (a typical tactic I employ when making food in a hurry)

Essentially I had cooked some bacon a little earlier in the day so instead of letting that valuable bacon fat go to waste, I decided to sauté some onions and garlic, threw in some sausage from a leftover the night prior, added the chickpeas and corn and finally the rice. Once that was all well incorporated and mixed together, I added whatever spices I fancied that day. I added some chili powder for kick, garlic powder and other spices. I also finely chopped some parsley and added it at the end for some fresh flavours. I can’t remember every single thing I added but I definitely remember enjoying it. It just goes to show that cooking doesn’t have to be hard. It’s all a matter of throwing together what you think would taste good to you and heating it up. Voila!

Writing this up has put me in the mood for some chickpeas so I think I’m gonna go soak some tonight. As for you guys, I hope you’ll think about trying chickpeas if you haven’t already. Happy Eating! :)

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*Update* I’ve had some personal struggles lately and with the transition from the school environment to back home, I’ve been unable to update this page at all. For those who constantly remind me and support me in this, I thank you and appreciate you. It makes me so happy knowing that I have readers out there whether you come on a regular basis or have dropped by just once. Also, through the kindness of a great friend of mine, he purchased my domain for me so the plan is to get the site running and eventually redirect you guys to my own personally owned site (though I will always love wordpress for giving me a place to start this up) Can’t wait! :)

I’ve eaten short ribs in many variations in the past. When I came across this recipe  and saw the delicious photo, I put it into my ever-growing list of recipes that I want to try. While on a grocery run with the family, I encountered some short ribs and instantly remembered this recipe and decided it was time to give it a try. I hadn’t really mentioned to anyone in my family that I was making it they didn’t get excited for it until make later into the cooking process.

The experience was an interesting one as I don’t often ‘braise’ any type of meat, new cooking method for me to try out but of course I love experimenting. I luckily had all the other ingredients at home waiting for me and I set out one weekend to make this long but tasty meal. (more…)

After making the rice that day, I decided to make  a stir fry to go along with it. I kind of threw everything together based so ingredient amounts are unknown. I suggest you experiment for yourself. Just everything in little amounts untill it tastes right to you. It’s essentially a basic stir-fry. you could substitute the meat for any kind and use prepared sauces if you’d like. sky’s the limit :)

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion
  • snow peas, chopped in half or thirds
  • carrots, chopped
  • chicken strips, frozen or fresh
  • few tbsps of soy sauce
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp of vegetable oil

Instructions

1. Heat the pan up to medium to medium-high. Add oil. Stir in onions until slightly translucent

2. Add carrots and sauté with the onions for a few minutes.

3. Add the snow peas. Pour a small amount of water to generate more steam. Add soy sauce and season to taste. Stir often and ensure continued moisture in the pan.

4. I opted to use frozen chicken strips because they were what I had on hand and they were quick. I actually enjoy the taste of these chicken strips and it went really.

Review

This is the final product. The stir fry went really well with the pilau rice. A squeeze of lemon freshened everything up. It was fairly light, full of flavour and well seasoned. Looking at this photo makes me want to cook it up again. I hope you enjoy. If you have any further questions on the recipe, let me know :)

I’ve noticed in the last little while that my home cooking strays more towards the vegetarian region and my restaurant/takeout meals lean more towards more  meaty dishes. So I wanted to switch things up and try the vegetarian fare at Lotus Hearts Blossom. Since moving to downtown, I became aware of the  lovely vegetarian restaurant close to where I live. I’m actually able to look into the restaurant from where I live and I often people watch from time to time while in my kitchen. I was thoroughly surprised at how much traffic the restaurant received. I looked over their great website and wonderful menu and I realized that I had to give the restaurant a try.

I decided to do take out because I’m the type of person who feels a little uncomfortable being in a restaurant alone, especially one that I’ve never tried before. Take out was also more appropriate because at the time I was busy doing lots of readings and housework so I just didn’t want to bother with sitting in the restaurant. Their menu is quite diverse and features so many great dishes and drinks. They feature some vegan and gluten free items when they can. They’ve chosen dishes that have lots of spices and herbs to bring out the most flavour from their ingredients. There are hints of indian, mexican and mediterranean to their meals.  It was actually very difficult for me to decide since it all sounded so appetizing. Their menu is separated by all day selections, lunch meals and dinner meals. They also have a brunch menu for the weekends. Check their site for hours.

It was lunch time when I decided to get something so I decided to opt for their meatloaf meal or “Neatloaf” as they call it, lunch portion. I love meatloaf but I can’t seem to bring myself to make one from scratch. I was intriguied in what a vegetarian version would taste like. They describe the meal as “A loaf baked with rice, grains, eggs, ricotta cheese & tofu served with mashed potatoes and rich mushroom gravy.” After reading that, how could I resist? I also decided to get a strawberry milkshake because I knew their version would probably delicious and healthy as opposed to the version you could pick up at a fast food chain. I adore strawberry or berry milkshakes. As I’m writing this, I’m craving one. :)

When I picked up my meal, I got the opportunity to see the interior of the restaurant myself. It’s an experience for sure. There wasn’t too many people in the restaurant when I went to pick up mainly because it was later in the afternoon so the place was rather quiet and calm. The lady who gave me my meal was very friendly and sweet looking. The whole place had a relaxing aura, very colourful and warm. It definitely doesn’t give off this eat and run vibe to it that some other restaurants can give off. Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos inside since it was a quick visit but the website does show a few.

This is how the meal looked like upon pick up. I thought the writing was a cute touch :)

Let’s have a look inside!

Although you could definitely eat it from the very sturdy box, I opted to transfer my whole meal onto a plate for easier photo taking and easier eating. I don’t know about you but I don’t normally eat out of a box. (hehe)

First thing I noted was that it was quite a lot of food for a lunch time portion. I remember having to finish off the rest another time. The neatloaf was definitely hearty. You could taste all the ingredients that went into the neatloaf, especially the tofu. You could also see the bits of rice. It was definitely delicious and filling. The neatloaf was covered with the gravy so you definitely tasted the mushroom gravy sauce first. My piece of meatloaf seemed to have been a corner so some of the edges were a bit more tough that I would have preferred. The bottom was also a bit more crisp that I really would have liked. The whole thing held well together and had a meaty taste so I definitely didn’t miss any of the flavours.

As mentioned it comes with mash potatoes and a salad. The mash potatoes were nicely seasoned. I normally eat the boxed mixed version of mash potatoes for convenience sake so this was a nice change. and the gravy went really well with the potatoes although I would like more gravy to cut the thickness of it. The salad was really tasty. It had a lot of fresh vegetables which included mixed greens, sprouts, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, red onions; all yummy things! The salad dressing that came with it was unique and had an interesting taste. I was testing it for the longest time trying to figure it out but my palate just isn’t good enough to determine the ingredients. It’s not my favourite dressing but I was willing to eat it, although next time I’ll probably opt for my own dressing. It did go well with the vegetables though.

As for the milkshake, it was super light and full of strawberry flavour. They didn’t overdo it with the ice cream so you could definitely drink it through a straw but not so thin that it was a smoothie. There were specks of the strawberries while I was drinking which made me wonder if it was made with actual strawberries. My questions were answered when I found a chunk of a strawberry at the bottom of my cup. I have a sneaking suspicion that they were frozen strawberries as opposed to completely fresh but for milkshakes, frozen strawberries will do. It was a beautiful pink colour and very well blended. Delish!

In total my whole meal was approx $15 with tax included and it was definitely worth it for all that I got. Had it not been the fact that I live so close to the place, I wouldn’t have come across it which would have been a shame. Its definitely an experience, meat fan or not and I highly recommend it. Happy eating!

Lotus Hearts Blossom Restaurant
185 Sydenham Street, Kingston, ON
613-549-7777
website

Lotus-Heart-Blossoms Vegetarian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

UPDATED 01/12/09 @ 3:45PM — I forgot a few more dishes so for those who have already read this post, check the end to see even more food from the party

New Year’s is a huge event for my family because it’s a two fold celebration. In addition to the general excitement for the new year, New Year’s day happens to be my father’s birthday. My family throws an annual New Year’s bash, invite all of our family and friends and party from the afternoon until the wee hours of the morning. Because it is such a long event and there are more people than the normal get-together, there’s a pretty big spread on our table.

After a year of numerous parties, my family tends to feel like we’ve gone through the majority of the Filipino dishes out there. Therefore, we like to attempt to ring in a new year with different food that isn’t always typically seen at a Filipino party. When deciding upon the menu, we consulted a variety of sources for inspiration and recipes and came up with a menu that features some of our most favourite dishes, some experimental food and some tried and true Filipino food.

Recipes that I reviewed

Recipes from various sources

Click to see more food from the party!

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I know I am terribly over due for a post and I have several (decent) reasons. First is the fact that I went home for my Christmas vacation and although you make think that I would have more time to update since I have no school to distract me, its actual more time-consuming as there are more responsibilities and duties while at home. During the holiday season there are several parties to attend, a lot of shopping/errands to run and many attempts at cleaning the house. Second is the fact that although as readers, there are no new posts, I do work on the behind the scenes stuff. For example, I’ve really been working on generating more readership that is stable. I’ve been joining other blogging/food networks to promote the blog because my secondary goal for this blog is to gain a decent amount of readership. I think I’ve done very well for only 3 months of publication and I hope that things only get better from here on out. I also spend a lot of time uploading/editing photos. My lighting and camera quality are not always the best so I do take the time to edit photos to make them as appetizing as possible. I’m trying to do the research needed to improve my photography skills so that I can cut down on editing. So I’ve caught up on editing, done a good chunk of promotion and gained more readership so now its time to get back to what it’s all about; food posts!

We’re gonna go way back to feature the main party food for this Christmas season. This is what a Filipino feast is like during the holiday season, in particular my home for New Year’s. Warning: this post is picture heavy!

For the annual Christmas day party, our family friends take turn on rotation deciding who will host it. This year it was held at my uncle’s house in Whitby from lunchtime until dinner. It was a potluck event and everyone was required to bring something. My family had decided to bring shrimp & vegetable tempura. It was also our opportunity to open our gifts with everyone else. Shortly after, I fell asleep from just exhaustion of the past few days. I awoke in time to eat a little bit of dinner, picture taking with the family and then headed home. But back to the food. There were tons and I wanted to feature all of them.

This was a black forest cake made by a family friend who specializes in baking. I’m not a huge fan of black forest cake, primarily because I’m not a fan of cherries. However, I was informed by my all-cake-loving sister that it was delicious. It was a beautiful cake fit for the season.

This was the tempura my family had brought. We used shrimp, eggplant, sweet potato and green peppers. It was a hit at the party and there were hardly any left overs. My favourite is always the sweet potato. It wasn’t as crisp as it could be since it was cooked earlier in the day but it was still very delicious and very easy to make.

Click to see more photos!

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In my freezer I often keep frozen filets of fish, typically tilapia, haddock and/or cod. I also normally forget that it’s in there until my fridge is basically bare. This was no exception. At the time, I had just moved into my apartment and my supplies had hit an all time low. I was so swamped with essays due in a few days, I couldn’t bring myself to take a grocery trip to get the needed supplies. I digged into the freezer and discovered the tilapia filets and decided to have them for dinner.

No matter how low my supplies get, I usually have onions, carrots and cucumbers on hand for vegetables. I also had some orange juice on hand and I remembered that back in the day my mother would take orange juice and reduce it down to create a sauce for shrimp. I decided to give that a try for my fish. I wanted to keep everything very light because there’s nothing worse than getting stressed out and becoming sluggish from eating too much greasy junk food.

I’ll write out a recipe but in all honesty, I just threw everything together very last minute and my measurements weren’t exact.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sized onion (red or yellow, whatever taste you prefer)
  • 1 medium carrot, julienned
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced circles
  • 1 small to medium sized yellow bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 tilapia filet
  • 1/4 cup of orange juice
  • 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • black pepper & salt to taste

Instructions:

1. Heat pan to medium/medium-high heat; add oil

2. Add onions and sauté. When onions begin to become translucent, add bell peppers and carrots until it starts to get tender. Take vegetables out and place to the side

3. Re-oil pan if you wish; add filet and let cook for a few minutes then flip to other side. Add orange juice, season with  salt & pepper and let simmer so the sauce can reduce. After a min or two, re-add the vegetables mixture and coat with the orange sauce.

4. Plate however you wish. Put cucumbers on the side to add an element of freshness.

 

Review:

I ate this with steamed rice as seen in the picture. The orange sauce turned out perfect and the whole meal was really light and fresh. I love onions so I opted for more than what’s written in the recipe. I also had some pickled carrots and daikon radish so I  used that for a garnish and it added a tangy bite. The whole meal is just a guideline so add whatever vegetables you may have around. I’ll definitely have to try the orange sauce for shrimp the way my mother used to do it.

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