An Awesome Edmonton Food Event!

Exciting news, Edmonton-based friends! 

The University of Alberta’s Campus Community Garden Open House is this Saturday!  

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The Campus Community Garden is a house-lot-sized organic garden run for and by a group of some of the kindest, most welcoming and generous volunteers you’ll meetAnd meet them you should, because they’re pulling out all the stops this Saturday to share with you an awesome day of fun, education, and amazing garden-fresh food! 

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Here’s the nitty-gritty:
(it’s a garden, after all)  

What: Campus Community Garden Annual Open House!
Where: 89th Ave between 110th and 111th street (look for the super-cute painted sign)
Why: To share with you the cool things going on at the garden; to help you green your own garden; to feed you and have fun!
When: Saturday, July 23rd, 2011 from 11-2. 
Schedule:
11:00 am: Garden Tour
11:30 am: Composting Demo
12:00 pm: Vegan barbecue, featuring salads, sides and desserts made from garden-grown fruits and veggies! 
1:00 pm:   Drum Circle led by Music Is A Weapon.  

For more information or to RSVP: head over to the Facebook event page or contact my pal Melanie, the Campus Gardens Coordinator, at ecos{@}su.ualberta.ca.

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So don your best gardening gloves and head over hungry, because it’s going to be a great (and sunny, hopefully!) day. Hope to see you there! 

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*A huge shout-out to my lovely sister and brother-in-law, Lauren and Rob of Rob & Lauren Photographers, for letting me post the amazing shots they took at last year’s Open House! Lauren and Rob will be shooting the Open House again this year, so be sure to check out their website after the event for another round of incredible garden images! 

How to Peel a Tomato + Tomato Jam

They’re here! 

Upload from July 19, 2011

A few short months ago, I was lamenting over the absence of sun-ripened tomatoes. But now, tomatoes are everywhere: 

Overflowing from market stalls and into my grocery bag;
Spilling out of my cupboards and into my teacup (darn);
Finding their way into everything I eat (see above);
And yet, there are still more tomatoes! 

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Now when life gives you tomatoes, you can certainly go buy lemons to make lemonade. But a better idea, I think, is to save your change and focus on making your tomatoes’ summery goodness last long into fall.

So to help make your fridge- and freezer-friendly tomato creations - pasta sauces, pizza sauces, and jams, oh my! -  the best they can be, I’m passing along a super-speedy tip to help you remove tomato skins in a cinch. Because few things take the fun out of pizza like an age-old slimy tomato skin lurking in the sauce.
  
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To get you started on stocking up for fall, I’m also passing along an easy recipe for tomato jam. Try this surprisingly sweet creation as it was intended to be - sandwiched between two rosemary cookies - or keep it simple and serve it with your favourite bread and cheese
  
Upload from July 19, 2011Just one word of advice: don’t choose a super-scorching day to start blanching tomatoes and simmering jam. Particularly if your shower is out of commission for the evening due for repairs. And you’re expecting company. Just maybe. 
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How to Peel a Tomato
Makes as many tomatoes as you start with!  

Ingredients
Whole ripe tomatoes

Directions
Remove stem from top and cut a small X into the bottom of each tomato. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then drop tomatoes in, removing with a slotted spoon once skins start to split (about 30 seconds). Let tomatoes cool, then slip off and discard skins. And that’s it!
 
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Tomato Jam
Adapted from Epicurious, where it was sourced from David Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert
Makes ~1 cup

Ingredients
1 pound ripe tomatoes, blanched (follow the directions above to completion!)
1 cup granulated sugar*
1 big pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 small pinch of salt
1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice 

Directions
Halve blanched tomatoes horizontally and squeeze out and discard seeds and juice. Cut remaining flesh into 1/2-inch pieces. In a medium saucepan, combine tomato pieces, sugar, pepper, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently and skimming off any foam with a spoon, until most of the liquid has evaporated (this took me about 45 minutes).** Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice, and transfer jam into jars. Let cool and refrigerate. Jam should keep for up to 6 months in the fridge.

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*I found the end result to be a bit too sweet, so next time I’ll reduce the sugar to 3/4 cup.
**The jam is done when it registers 220°F on a candy thermometer or when a drop dropped onto a super-cold plate (pop one in the freezer before you start cooking) gels like jam. For more tips on testing the doneness of jam, check out this article

FoodHappy Returns (Again)!

I’m back (again)!  

Upload from July 14, 2011

After changing my travel plans half a dozen times due to some combination of hypothetical bears and hypothetical weather, I spent a long weekend in Kananaskis. And it was lovely. 

I hiked;
I napped;
I canoed (or, rather, took photos while my canoeing companion did all the heavy paddling);  
And, unlike my last mountain adventureI cooked!

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With two teeny tin pots and a collapsable stove, we dished up simple, delicious, only slightly bug-laden dinners on a picnic table, a park bench and a rock. 

But, due to a limited supply of butane and a strong desire not to get nibbled on by grizzlies, I only had time to snap a few shots of our meals. 

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So today, I’m dipping into the archives and passing along a few simple FoodHappy recipes that make for awesome camping fare. All of the recipes you’ll find below either travel well or can be prepared day-of with minimal effort.

For snacks, try: 
- Mad-tasty homemade granola bars (perfect for replenishing your energy after a strenuous hike or, say, a long nap)
- Sweet, spicy, cheesy Spanish trail mix
- Savoury and super-fun mozzarella s’mores (cheese-free s’mores are cool too!)
- Speedy homemade pita chips and guacamole  

For breakfast, go for:  
- Amazing oatmeal, seven ways
- Sweet breakfast couscous (super simple to make ahead!)

For lunch and dinner, try:
- Delicious, nutritious feta, dried cherry and quinoa salad (it’ll make you feel fancy, even when you haven’t showered for days) 
- Veggie burgers with homemade pickles and snazzy fennel and carrot slaw

Nice!

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Now that you’re armed with an arsenal of easy, outdoor-friendly recipes, all you need is a small army (read: nuclear-strength DEET) to battle the bugs and you’ll be good to go.  So get out there and enjoy the summer!

And stay tuned over the next few days for some decidedly mountain-free recipes! 

Adventure Snack #2: Granola Bars!

It’s time for another adventure snack because, well, it’s time for another adventure! 

Upload from July 08, 2011

Now that I’m settling into the swing of things after spending a week in Banff, I’m back off to the mountains. But this time, it’s going to be a bit different. 

This time, there’s no towel service.
No wine bar.
No lunch buffet boasting six-or-so desserts.
No showers.
No power.
No water.


It’s going to be, as Parks Canada has aptly warned me, “primitive”. 

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But no matter, because I’ve got granola bars, and nothing says a good time like a granola bar (the mountain views will help too, I’m sure). Which sounds like a silly thing to say, but these granola bars are good. So good, I refuse (read: hope I don’t have to) to share them with bears.  

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Super-simple to make, sweet but not too sweet, and packed with all sorts of tasty things - toasted oats, slivered almonds, shredded coconut and wheat germ, to name a few - these crunchy-chewy bars make for a perfect snack, whether or not a half-day hike is on your agenda. And - my favourite bit - they can be customized to suit you!  

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Which means you can load them up with all of your favourite things, like dried fruit, seeds, and nuts. Or chocolate. Bucketloads of chocolate. 

Whatever floats your canoe, right? 

Happy almost-weekend, everyone!
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Granola Bars
Makes 12-24, depending on how generous of a slicer you are
Adapted from smitten kitchen 

Ingredients
2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal (the kind that cooks in 10 minutes)
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (loosely packed)
½ cup toasted wheat germ
⅔ cup honey
1½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp kosher salt
1½ cups add-ins (dried fruit, nuts, seeds, bite-sized bits of chocolate, etc.!)*

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8x12-inch baking dish and line with parchment paper. Spread oatmeal, almonds and coconut on a large baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.

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2. As soon as it’s out of the oven, pour warm oatmeal mixture into a large bowl, add wheat germ, and stir to combine. Add honey, vanilla and salt and stir to combine. Add any additions and stir to (you guessed it!) combine.

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3. Pour oatmeal mixture into prepared baking dish and, using a silicone spatula or wet fingers, press the mixture into the dish until you can press it down no more! Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden. Let cool for 2-3 hours and cut into bars or squares using a sharp serrated knife.** Store bars in an air-tight container in the freezer to maintain crispness. 

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*I split one batch of of the granola mixture into two bowls just before mixing in the additions so that I could make two different kinds of granola bars in one go! I tossed equal parts roasted salted peanuts and milk chocolate chunks (altogether totalling 3/4 cup) into one bowl, and equal parts dried sour cherries and dark chocolate chunks (totalling 3/4 cup) in the other.
**I went for bars, which were a bit crumbly; my guess is that squares might hold together a bit better. An extra-firm hand when pressing the mixture into the dish will help too!

FoodHappy Returns!

I’m back!

Upload from July 04, 2011
After a week spent at a conference-or-three in Banff, on a farm in British Columbia, and in a cabin in the valley of the mountains, I’ve returned to Edmonton! 

And while I accomplished a lot of things while I was away - hanging out with some awesome academics, brushing up on my Australian slang, and unintentionally angering a cow, to name just a few - none of them were culinary. 

Upload from July 04, 2011
Because not only did I not have the time to cook - two of the three photos I’m posting were taken from a moving vehicle for a reason -
 but I never needed to either.  

See, between being at a conference centre that dished up enough food for a small army (or contingent of economists) six times a day and having kitchen-savvy friends, the closest thing to cooking I ever had to do was toast bread. Which, now that I think about it, I’ve posted about before. Huh.

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But now that I’m back and have retired my dress shoes and wash-rinse-and-repeat-ed the DEET from my hair, I’m itching to get back in the kitchen. So stay tuned this week for more tasty recipes, and maybe a few stories too

And in the mean time, have a happy Monday!

Adventure Snacks: Spanish Trail Mix!

FoodHappy has left the city! 

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Yesterday morning, I packed my suitcase and piled into a rental car with my colleagues to make the five-hour trip to Banff, where I’ll be calling a conference centre hotel room home for the next seven days. 

And, as any good Canadian knows, you can’t head to the mountains without trail mix. 

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Well, it turns out I’m not a very good Canadian. Because I made this trail mix the evening - mere hours! - before I left for Banff. And it disappeared long, long before I arrived (and would have even if we hadn’t stopped for ice cream and hadn’t missed our exit. Twice.). 

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Packed with crunchy toasted almonds, rich manchego cheese, sweet dried fruit, hot smoked paprika and fresh orange zest, this Spanish-style trail mix (do they have trail mix in Spain? Anyone?) has it all. Which is why I ate it all.

Seriously, I loathe to think how much of this I consumed in 18 hours and - furthering my bad-Canadian behavior - I only shared it with one other person; not that I didn’t offer it around to all of my rental car companions of course, but I didn’t save any either.  

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So make sure you make some - it’s awesome! - but make sure you have people to share it with too. Otherwise you may find that you’re the proverbial slowest-moving member of your hiking group. And when you’re in bear country, that’s bad news. Wish me luck! 
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Spanish Trail Mix
Adapted from Bon App
étit
Makes ~3 cups 

Ingredients*
1 cup whole natural almonds
¾ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp finely grated orange peel 
¾ cup ⅓-inch cubes dried apricots
¾ cup ⅓-inch cubes dried pitted dates
½ cup ⅓-inch cubes manchego cheese 

Directions

Toast almonds in a large pan over medium heat until golden and fragrant, 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and toss with paprika, orange peel, and a big pinch of both salt and pepper. Allow almonds to cool to room temperature, then toss with apricots, dates and cheese. Serve at room temperature, storing any extras in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to two days.  

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*I like the quantities outlined below, but if you know you’re particularly fond of one thing (say, delicious manchego cheese), don’t be afraid to adjust the quantities a bit! 

A Slice of Summer: Olive Oil Loaf Cake

Happy first day of summer, everyone! 

To kick off the season, I’m passing along a recipe perfectly suited to the standard start to an Edmonton summer.

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Which is to say: rain. Bathtubs of rain.  

Not that I’m complaining in the least - I’m the type to simultaneously melt and burn as soon as the mercury rises above room temperature (a pretty sight indeed!) - but I suspect that one of the last things you want to do when you get home sopping-wet is kick back on the patio with a popsicle. 

So today, it’s cake.   

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A dense-but-not-heavy loaf cake, super-subtlely flavoured with bottle-green olive oil, studded with bits of bright lemon zest and sweet sultanas, and topped off with crunchy walnuts. (The original recipe specifies pine nuts, but I’m saving my rainy day funds for something other than $65/kg nuts. I don’t doubt that the pine nuts - which really do taste piney - would be outstanding here though!)

The result of the minimal effort it takes to throw this together is something I imagine a Mediterranaean grandmother would whip up from memory in celebration of the winter holidays. Which works, really, given that a Mediterranaean winter isn’t so different from an Edmonton summer.    

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Weather ramblings aside, this cake truly is the perfect companion to a rainy day. Just add a steaming cup of Earl Grey and you’ve crafted a lovely start to what’s soon to become a gloriously-sunny season.  

Once again, happy first day of summer - I hope you have an amazing day!
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Olive Oil Loaf Cake
Adapted from Epicurious
Makes 1 9x5-inch loaf

Ingredients
2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cups milk (I used 2%)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup sultana raisins, tossed with a bit of flour*
Grated zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup walnuts (or other nut, like pine nuts or hazelnuts) 

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and butter and flour a 9x5-inch loaf pan.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in dry ingredients and pour in beaten eggs, milk and olive oil. Mix with a wooden spoon until flour mixture is almost entirely incorporated with wet ingredients. Add raisins and zest and mix just until evenly dispersed through batter.** 

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3. Transfer batter into your prepared loaf pan and smooth out so that the top is even. Sprinkle batter with nuts, pressing nuts into dough slightly. Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out moist, but clean.*** Cool in the pan on a wire rack for five minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely on the rack.

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*Tossing dried fruit with a bit of flour before adding it to the batter will keep the fruit from sinking to the bottom of your cake. Cool, hey?
**The goal here is to mix everything just until the last bit of flour has disappeared into the wet ingredients; any more, and your cake will be tough. 
***If the toothpick comes out covered in batter, keep baking!

Old-School Easy: Orecchiette with Broccoli!

Picture this:

First: a spring day in Apulia, the heel of Italy’s geographic boot. A group of women sit in the open Mediterranean air, eyes alight with the energy of their conversation as their hands, as though independent entities, deftly roll, cut and shape bits of strong dough into the regional staple, orecchiette. Little ears.

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Next: the island of Sardinia; a verdant field dotted with long-haired Sardinian sheep. Down a zigzag of a road, a cheesemaker references an ancient Roman recipe, transforming humble sheep’s milk into one of Italy’s oldest formaggios: the sharp, salty Pecorino Romano 

Then: a misty morning on a little farm in California. Dressed for the cool weather, the farmer inspects neat rows of blue-green brassicas that got their start around the time when Caesar was the talk of the town: the Italian import, broccoli  

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Finally: a crumbling apartment building whose halls are decorated in the style of lime green spackle. A girl, soggy from the day’s downpour and suffering the effects of self-imposed insomnia, stumbles through the door. After weeks of dinners of cheese, dried fruit, and that’s about it, she’s in need of serious nourishment. But she’s only got 20 minutes before her idea of acceptable cooking degrades to feta straight from the fridge. 

Now weave those word pictures together and you get this: 

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Orecchiette with broccoli, Pecorino Romano, and a scant-handful of other ingredients;
A traditional Apulian dish that’ll take you two pots and 20 minutes to put together;
A satisfying supper that’ll put a brick of feta to shame.

Because when you start with quality ingredients - real foods made with skill and care - the end result is so much more than your few minutes of concentrated effort. It’s a reflection of the years all of those other folks - the cheese-makers and pasta-rollers - put into honing their specialized skills. 

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So next time you’re pressed for time, spend it wisely: skip the overpriced convenience foods that aim to be speedier versions of the real deal, and opt for super-simple meals made from ingredients that are at the top of their class. 

And with that, it’s time for me to tuck into a big bowl of quality breakfast feta. 
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Orecchiette with Broccoli
Adapted from Bon Appétit
Serves 3-4

Ingredients
2 tbsp olive oil 
2 cloves of garlic, minced*
2 cups orecchiette or shell pasta
2½ cups broccoli, chopped**
½ cup freshly grated sharp cheese (try 2 parts Pecorino Romano to 1 part Parmesan)
1 tbsp dried chiles (or to taste)***
Salt and pepper

Directions
1. In a small pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic, sauté until it’s just beginning to turn golden (~one minute) and remove from heat. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until the pasta has 3 minutes to go. Add broccoli and cook until broccoli and pasta are al dente, roughly 3 minutes. 

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2. Drain pasta and transfer to a large bowl. Add garlic and oil, cheese, and chiles and stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper as you please! 

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*As you’ll see from the photos, I didn’t mince the garlic this time around. In retrospect, I think mincing would give you a better garlicky bang for your buck. Next time around, I’ll mince!
**You want pieces that’ll cook in about 3 minutes - nothing too big! 
***I like my pasta to be moderately spicy and the chiles I used were pretty mild - if you’re in a different boat in terms of your heat preference and your chile-spiciness, adjust the amount you use as you see fit!

How to Cook Quinoa + An Easy, Awesome Quinoa Creation!

Tastier than a seed of millet! 
More protein-packed than a grain of wheat! 
Able to provide eight amino acids in a single bite! 

Look! There on the screen!

It’s a seed! It’s a grain! It’s quinoa!

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On the surface, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), may seem rather unremarkable. But in true superhero fashion, these South American seeds are anything but ordinary. 

Not only do they pack a powerful punch of protein and fiber and come with a trusty team of essential vitamins and minerals (The Incredible Iron! B1-2-and-6-man!), they’re also one of the few plant-based complete proteins. For anyone watching their intake of animal products, that last point alone makes quinoa worthy of superhero status. 

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But quinoa is more than just a healthy face: it is white-rice-easy to prepare and its mildly-nutty flavour and fluffy texture make it an A+ alternative to its key culinary competitors, rice and couscous. And it’s got that fun, Frankensteinian factor: through the simple additions of water, heat and time, plain-Jane little seeds grow three times their size to become glowing curlicues. Yeah, no big deal. 

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So to help you harness the power of these super-seeds, I’m passing along basic quinoa cooking instructions as well as a full recipe for one of my favourite ways to serve quinoa - a warm, sweet-and-savoury quinoa so-much-more-than-a-salad salad. I’ve also included at the end of the post a few  additional suggestions for cool quinoa-based creations.

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The fate of dinner is now in your capable hands! 
 
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How to Cook Quinoa
Makes ~1.5 cups of cooked quinoa

Ingredients*
1/2 cup dry quinoa
1 cup water

Directions
Rinse and drain quinoa and add to a medium-sized pot with 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for five minutes. Remove lid, fluff with a fork, and you’re ready to go! 

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*Want to make a different amount? Easy! Just follow a ratio of 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water (or broth, if you’re feeling flavourful), keeping in mind that 1 measure of dried quinoa will produce roughly 3 measures of cooked quinoa.
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Quinoa Salad with Cider Vinaigrette
Salad inspired by Culina; Vinaigrette adapted from Bon Appétit
Makes ~5 cups (enough for 4 for lunch)

Ingredients*
½ cup light olive oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp minced shallots
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp honey

4 cups of any darker lettuce, cut/torn into bite-sized bits (I used red leaf lettuce)
1½ cups cooked quinoa, still warm
1½ cups cooked chickpeas**
¾ cup feta cheese, crumbled (I like creamy sheep feta here)
⅓ cup dried cherries
⅓ cup slivered almonds, toasted

Directions
To make vinaigrette, combine first five ingredients in a lidded jar, screw on lid and shake jar vigorously until ingredients have combined.*** Season with salt and pepper to taste. In a large bowl, toss remaining ingredients with 1/4 cup of vinaigrette. Taste and add more vinaigrette to your liking!  

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*I’ve specified exact quantities here, but don’t be afraid to adjust as you see fit, as your fresh ingredients - and your tastes - will be different from mine! 
**Cook your own or use canned - either will do! To add a bit of extra richness and warmth to the salad, fry your chickpeas in a pan with a tablespoon or two of butter for a few minutes before adding them to the salad. 
***This’ll make more vinaigrette than you need for the salad, but you may find that it’s handy to have a few homemade dressings hanging out in the fridge. Alternatively, you can simply cut the quantities of the vinaigrette ingredients in half. 
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Feeling the quinoa love? Try out some of these other cool quinoa ideas!
- Quinoa patties: quinoa + cheese, fried to tasty perfection. 
- Breakfast quinoa: swap out the couscous and substitute in cooked quinoa for an extra-healthful start to the day. 
- Moroccan-style quinoa stew: super-spiced vegetarian quinoa stew, perfect for a chilly day. 
- Lemon-scented quinoa: Standard quinoa goes golden with the simple additions of fresh lemon juice and zest. 
- Quinoa sprouts: Have you heard? Quinoa sprouts are the new alfalfa sprouts. 

Caprese Salad S'mores!

It was an accident - I swear! 

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After passing along an armful of recipes for childhood-inspired chilly treats, I intended to retire the nostalgia for a while. There’s only so much reminiscing you can take before you just feel, well, old. (Example: Remember when beanie babies were all the rage? Yeah, that began 18 years ago.)

So I was going to share that standout, sentiment-free Italian classic made by layering fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil and drizzling the lot with extra virgin olive oil and salt: Caprese salad. I thought I was safe. 

But then I came across these:  

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S’mores.

Correction: Caprese salad s’mores. That is, fresh mozzarella roasted marshmallow-style until gooey and golden, topped with fresh basil and tomato (sundried tomatoes are amazing here!), all sandwiched between garlic-rubbed slices of grilled baguette.

All thoughts about age-appropriateness were out the window. Actually, any thought that wasn’t a zombie-like “Must make. Must share.” wasn’t getting a ton of airtime. And rightfully so! 
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With an ingredients list so spartan, I’d recommend getting the best ingredients you can manage. And if you only go big on one thing, make it the cheese and choose buffalo mozzarella. Made from the milk of water buffaloes, this mozzarella is twice the price of the fresh cows milk alternative, but about 10 times as tasty. That, I think, is what’s called a good deal.   

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And no worries if you don’t have a grill! You can replicate the results by using the grilled cheese sandwich method or by topping a piece of toasted baguette with an even layer of cheese, blasting it under the broiler just to melt the mozzarella, and then topping it all off with the tomato, basil and other slice of toast. Sure, making a sandwich isn’t quite as fun as a sandwich-s’more (s’morewich?), but the flavour combination - particularly when you use sundried tomatoes - is one I think you’ll happily come back to long after the next beanie-baby-equivalent has lost its flavour. 
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Caprese Salad S’mores
Adapted from Epicurious
Makes 8 s’mores 

Ingredients 
16 thin slices of baguette, toasted and, optionally, rubbed with a cut clove of garlic (see this post for tips!)
8-16 pieces of small bocconcini or 4-5 oz fresh mozzarella cut into 8 equal-sized pieces (the amount you’ll need will depend on the size of your baguette and your love of cheese)
8 medium basil leaves
8 sundried tomato halves* or slices of fresh tomato

Directions 

1. Remove upper grate of your barbeque (preferably charcoal) and preheat the grill until it’s super-hot. Rake embers** into the centre of the grill. Spear 1-2 pieces of cheese with a roasting stick or water-soaked wooden skewer and carefully roast over fire until cheese begins to brown and melt, 2ish minutes. Remove cheese from the flame, assemble your s’more (toasts on the outside; tomato, basil and cheese on the inside), and eat it as soon as the cheese is no longer molten!

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*Oil-packed tomatoes should be drained before use (no one wants a soggy s’more!), while dried tomatoes should be rehydrated in freshly-boiled water until tender (may take up to an hour, depending on the dryness of your tomatoes), drained and tossed in a bit of olive oil. 
**By the time we got to grilling the cheese, the charcoal wasn’t hot enough to turn it bubbly and brown. Next time, we’ll get our roast on before the flames go out.