On My Kitchen Table: Spinach Fettuccine Pasta With Crushed Tomatoes, Vegetables, & Chicken Meatballs

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Let’s talk pasta.  I live for pasta days.  I get excited seeing Mario Batali make fresh, homemade pasta from scratch on The Chew (homemade stuffed ravioli and pappardelle in olive oil, mushrooms, and buttered sage!  OH.MY.GOD), I daydream about ravioli, linguine, and egg noodles, and I almost always dive for the pasta dishes at self-serve, pay-by-weight buffets at supermarkets and gourmet food stores like All the Best Fine Foods and Daniel et Daniel.  The seafood linguine at The Pickle Barrel was even one of my favourite dishes back in the day when my high school friends and I used to frequent the restaurant for girls’ night get-togethers.  And yet, for a pasta and noodle lover like myself, I don’t eat it often enough and it’s sadly one of the more neglected foodie areas on the blog.  I am totally committed to changing that this year though; I love pasta too much to not see it shine! 

I had three very memorable pasta and noodle meals this past month though, including a delicious ramen and pork gyoza dumpling noodle-in-soup bowl, an amazing pesto chicken fusili from Daniel et Daniel (fact: pesto makes everything heavenly), and an Italian all-you-can-eat feast for my brother’s birthday at Frankie Tomatto’s where I had crab stuffed ravioli bathed in a light garlic, tomato, and parsley cream sauce, spaghetti and vegetarian meatballs, and braised beef and butternut squash pasta.  It was wonderful.  

It’s hard to get my pasta fix on a regular basis.  And by regular basis, I mean almost every day.  My entire family has different carborhydrate tastes.  There’s me, the pasta and noodle lover in the flesh.  Then there’s my mum who happily claims she could live on nothing but bread.  Then there’s my brother who will eat rice, bread, and pasta but not really noodles.  Finally, we have my dad who is, what my mum and I call, a “human rice bucket”.  It’s maddening trying to find things we all love sometimes.  Thus, when my mum suggested having fettuccine for dinner, I did my happy-fists dance! 

For dinner: regular and spinach fettuccine in tomato sauce with chicken meatballs, red, orange, and yellow bell peppers, button mushrooms, celery, crushed tomatoes, shredded mozzarella cheese, white pepper, and parsley flakes.  I love different cream sauces (garlic, mushroom, portuguese, white wine, the whole shebang) but every so often, tomato sauce hits the spot and for me, it has to be a tomato sauce devoid of meat.  Just plain old crushed tomatoes and herbs does the job.  I currently have my eye on some udon noodle bowls at a few sushi spots in town, some Portuguese chicken spaghetti, any and all kinds of macaroni and cheese, and ravioli.  Lots of ravioli.  The year is still young so we’ll see how many dishes I get around to enjoying!

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To view Ate by Ate’s archive of pasta related posts, click here.  More posts to come!

From the Television Screen to My Kitchen Table: Lemon and Green Onion Rice from Best Recipes Ever

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I thank my lucky stars for television cooking shows.  I don’t remember how many times I’ve mentioned this on the blog (or if I’ve mentioned it at all), but I adore Food Network on Channel 52 and I love Best Recipes Ever by Canadian Living with Kary Osmond on CBC, Channel 6.  I watch them both religiously.  I watch it on weekdays, weekends, while I’m scrapbooking, and after my soap operas.  When I’m home during the day, my television lineup from 3pm-5pm is as follows: Best Recipes Ever on CBC, Michael Smith’s Chef at Home on Food Network, Ricardo & Friends, and Giada at Home.  And don’t even get me started on Iron Chef, Best Thing I Ever Ate, and Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.  I avoid the reality tv type shows like the plague, but the ones I just listed?  LOVE.  I’d say 70% of my television consumption is dedicated to Food Network and food and cooking related shows (the other 30% is comprised of sports,  soap operas, and the occasional prime time show such as Big Bang Theory which I love to pieces) and I’m telling you, I’ve learned so much from watching others cook.

My mum and I have Best Recipes to thank for this new dinner dish of ours.  It’s SO simple that it makes me feel somewhat embarrassed that I didn’t think to do it like this before.  My family and I eat rice on a pretty regular basis and one of my favourite home cooked meals is this minced pork fried rice my mum makes (which I will be blogging about soon) with minced pork, garlic, and lots of green onions.  What we didn’t think to do was to flavour our rice with lemon zest to make a simple lemon rice.  I KNOW.  Lightbulb “duh” moment, right?  So thanks to Best Recipes, we snatched a new dinner dish to put on our kitchen table and we absolutely love it.

Cooked rice (we used white Jasmine rice, but any rice will do) with the zest of one lemon (there are 4 people in my house, so if you’re cooking for yourself or for two people, half a lemon should be good enough), and as many chopped green onions/scallions as your heart desires.  I love green onions so I dumped a bucket-full on my serving.  If you wish you can mix in a little garlic and olive oil, but I left mine plain the first time around with just the lemon zest and green onions and I have to tell you, this rice is now going to be a staple in our home.  Thank you television, I love you.      

Here Fishy, Fishy, Fishy – Fish Fillets & Mum’s Home Cooking

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I hope everyone’s long weekend has been going fab so far despite the baffling weather!  Yesterday morning people were in t-shirts and restaurants temporarily re-opened their outdoor patios.  By sleepytime, snow was blowing around the streets like a cyclone, and I was huddled under the covers with the blankets pulled up to my nose, scared to death my roof was going to blow off from the wind.  Other than that, things are for the most part, peachy 😀  I’ve been spending a ton of time scrapbooking my little heart out (12 pages in 3 days, not bad at all!) and I can’t wait to dish out the new layouts to show you all real soon!  Not to mention I’m working on a few new additions to the blog which I hope to have set up in the next week or two.  I’ll be setting up a Twitter account (oh the joys of technology) and I’m also adding an “Address Book” feature where restaurants and eateries will be organized by category and arranged alphabetically for your perusing pleasure.  Kind of like my mini version of the Yellow Pages!

In the meantime, it’s fishy time!  It’s been awhile since I last posted any photos of my dinners at home, so here are a few recent fish fillet dishes my mum cooked.  My mum will normally keep the marinating for the fish really simple.  A lot of the time she’ll use some garlic, a bit of cornstarch, black pepper, and a little lemon or lime juice.  Up top we have fresh fish with a bit of soy sauce and lots of roasted garlic, green onions, and black pepper, and down below is fish seasoned with thyme and served with sautéed onions, carrots, green bell pepper, and lots of fresh flat leaf parsley!  Lately we’ve been eating carrots like bunnies and adding them to everything!  They really liven up a dish with colour and I loooove carrots steamed so it’s win-win for both me and the camera 😀

Stay warm everyone and hopefully the bright colours from the pictures will remind you that spring WILL come!   

Weekly Feature: The Grad Lounge – Welcoming the New Year with Beans!

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It’s the first day of the new year, 2011.  Happy new year everyone!  And we’re going to start the new year off just the way I like it: food, food, and pictures!  That’s the way I roll, baby 😀  Since I haven’t posted a Grad Lounge post yet this week, here is another vegetarian dish from The Grad Lounge with, yup, you guessed it: beans!  A warm bowl of egg noodles with ladles of vegetable stew over top, with crushed tomatoes, green beans, celery, chunks of potato, and white kidney beans.  Egg noodles = total weakness.  It’s delicious and I remember eating egg noodles when I was little, either with a bit of sesame oil and oyster sauce or with a bit of Miracle Whip dressing.  Eating this meal makes me realize how much I miss having egg noodles and that I should really get some for the pantry!  And as you’ll see further down, I have also recently become majorly obsessed with beans. 

Much like home, food is where the heart is.  What you eat and who you eat it reveals so much about your habits, personal tastes, and cultural traditions.  You carry a part of that everywhere you go and in turn, you bring something back each time you venture out.  I found out the joys of bocconcini cheese from an old co-worker at the flower shop; I ate chick peas for the first time on a picket line; and I realized my love for juicy blackberries from eating a Tim Hortons yogurt.  The love for food is infectious in the best way possible because you learn all the time.  And this is definitely a reflection of the food I eat at home now and what my mum has grown to love too.

Mum and I made a 6-bean salad today equipped with: dark red kidney beans, black eyed peas, white kidney beans, romano beans, baby lima beans, and chick peas, all tossed with grape tomatoes, diced green bell pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, and a handful of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley sprinkled over top.  Colourful, fragrant, and so damn good.  I have a smattering of other food photos that I’m posting along with the bean salad just because I love colours that pop.  Simplicity is the name of the game.  Instant noodles with crab meat and shrimp prawns, mixed green salad with olive oil and bocconcini, and vanilla icecream with fresh raspberries and blackberries.  Enjoy the pictures!

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The Grad Lounge is located at 166 South Ross at the York University Keele campus.  The Grad Lounge is set to reopen its doors for business this coming Tuesday on January 4th.

Mum’s Home Cooking – The Comfort of Home

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Once upon a time, mum couldn't cook this!

I really wish I had thought of doing this sooner, but later is better than never!  Over the past 2 years or so, I’ve been taking photos of my mom’s home cooking and I only wish I had started this project when I was teenager.  I might be biased but I love my mum’s cooking.  Now that I make it a habit of capturing all her dishes on camera and going click-happy, it makes HER happy.  As a stay-at-home mom, she has slaved away for many years for my brother and me and as much as we butt heads (what mother-daughter duo doesn’t?), I truly appreciate what she does for us in the kitchen, making sure we always have enough to eat coming home from a long day of school or work and always making our favourites when we need it most. 

It’s funny, mum’s been cooking for us for years now and it’s only been in the last several that she has really branched out and been more adventurous with her cooking and it makes me really proud of her to see her enjoy it a bit more.  Let it be known that my mum does NOT enjoy cooking and she’ll be the first to attest to that!  Like she says, she’s come a loooong way; she even didn’t even know how to cook an egg when she married my dad!  No joke! 😀  Growing up with my grandma and my great-grandmother and at one point, BOTH great-grandmothers?  Heck, they about chased her out of the damn kitchen!  Even though my mom does the same to me now (“get out, you’re in my way!  Put that pot down for heaven’s sake!”), my insane love for food and for learning about it has rubbed off on her and now she can’t get enough of The Food Network and gets excited about herbs.  Who woulda thunk it?

Mum loves making eggs (I know, the very thing she didn’t know how to cook when her and my dad became Mr. and Mrs.!) and we loooove scrambled eggs.  What you see her are 2 variations of the same dish.  Scrambled eggs with baby shrimp and in the first photo up top, with Chinese green chives and in this photo here, with green scallions.  Sprinkle in some black pepper and you have yourself a meal. 

Pst!  Here’s a tip we learned from our beloved Ina Garten on “Barefoot Contessa” from The Food Network: adding a splash of light cream to your eggs makes them lighter and fluffier!  For those who prefer a more detailed description, the ratio is as follows: for every 6 eggs (half a dozen), use 3 tablespoons of light cream.  We whip our eggs with a fork (or my mom will use chopsticks), nothing fancy.  And voila!  Fluffy scrambled eggs!

I have a growing anthology of my mum’s cooking and it makes her (and me) quite happy.  As she fondly watches me snap away, yanking kitchen curtains open for better lighting, she asks, “You really like my cooking that much?”  to which I reply, “yes I do, mummy”.