Feta, chickpea and zucchini salad, salmon with balsamic maple glaze and a coffee shop adventure

Feta, zucchini, bean saladJonathan and I have been married almost three weeks now – and have been loving every moment of married life!  I have made many tasty dinners and we have gone on a few foodie adventures in Detroit.  It has been very humid in Windsor and so a fresh summer salad recipe was in order.  We had purchased a Costco sized container of feta cheese, so I have been very creative lately with feta.  Summer salads with beans, zucchini and a light olive oil and balsamic dressing are refreshing and delicious.  This salad is also very versatile you could also add in cherry tomatoes, red peppers, cucumber or other favourite veggies.  The salmon I made had a balsamic and maple glaze, which was the perfect week night meal.  The glaze thickened perfectly and was very balanced in its light sweetness and balsamic flavour.

From our adventures in the USA, Jonathan discovered a unique coffee shop that we just had to try.  The Roasting Plant is a coffee shop in Detroit that features a system of tubes that roast, grind and store your coffee until it is ready to be Roasting Plantbrewed fresh on site.  While you sit at your table you can see green coffee beans being roasted in the Javabot.  There is also a great deal of selection from region to roast for the coffee beans.  Jonathan tried three different small sized coffees (called a flight of coffee, so you can sample a few different roasts) and I had an iced coffee.  We also shared a small croissant – yum!  The coffee was delicious and we would both recommend a visit if you are a coffee snob/ coffee lover.  The concept of the tubes, roasting and fresh brewed coffee is great and the coffee is delicious.

Feta, chickpea and zucchini and salad

Ingredients

1 can chickpeas, rinsed

1 can kidney beans, rinsed

½ cup green olives, sliced

1 medium zucchini, chopped into small pieces

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Dressing

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon oregano

1 teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Mix dressing in a measuring cup and stir well.  Then drizzle over top of salad and toss together.  Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

Salmon with Balsamic Maple Glaze

Ingredients

2 salmon fillets

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ maple syrup

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon corn starch

1 tablespoon brown sugar

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil

Prepare baking sheet with lightly drizzled olive oil.  Place salmon fillets on the sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. (adjust bake time according to your oven, mine took 20 minutes.)

Meanwhile, whisk all other ingredients together in a saucepan.  Let simmer for 5 minutes until slightly reduced and thickened.

Pour glaze over salmon and cook in the oven for another 5 minutes.

Enjoy.

Feta, zucchini, bean salad with balsamic maple glazeRoasting PlantIced coffee at Roasting PlantRoasting Plant

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Coffee Cupcakes

Coffee Cupcake

Coffee cupcakes of mine turned out to be more like a coffee muffin with icing.  Since I am allergic to nuts and chocolate, coffee and espresso are my version of chocolate.  The cupcakes have a bold and really tasty coffee flavor, which is delightful.

However, I felt a tad guilty after being so indulgent that I did a twenty-minute work out the next morning, perhaps that could be categorized as “just healthy living”.  Most healthy living advice is to have balance in your diet and exercise routine.  Eating the odd cupcake is wonderful and to be encouraged, as long as you don’t eat ten cupcakes.  The twenty minute work out I used was based on Women’s Healthy Magazine, some great tips and how to do exercises that are better than crunches.

Back to the cooking though, I used the Joy of Baking website’s vanilla cupcake recipe and then added ¼ cup of brewed coffee, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and removed the lemon zest.  Initially I added the lemon zest, but my Mom came in the kitchen and said cinnamon and lemon zest would not taste good together – so I picked out the lemon zest bits the best I could.  For this round of cupcakes the icing recipe is the same as the carrot, cinnamon, maple cupcakes, except that I added ¼ cup of brewed coffee.

The cupcakes had not cooled enough when I iced them, so the icing on top of my cupcakes is a little runny looking, and on some cupcakes it dripped.  I put the extra icing in the refrigerator and it firmed up, as extra icing for later.

Coffee cupcakes

Coffee Cupcake Recipe:

½ cup of unsalted butter at room temperature

2/3 of a cup of organic sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon of organic pure vanilla extract

1 ½ cups of all purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

¼ teaspoon of salt

¼ cup of milk

¼ cup of brewed organic coffee

Cream cheese icing:

1 cup of cream cheese, at room temperature

¼ cup of butter, at room temperature

3 cups of confectioners’ sugar

¼ cup of brewed organic coffee

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners if desired.

In the electric mixer bowl, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well. Beat in the vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture, brewed coffee, and milk.  Do so in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl so that all ingredients are properly combined.

Fill the muffin cups with the batter and bake for about 17 – 20 minutes.

Or – insert a toothpick into a cupcake and if it comes out clean – your cupcakes are finished.

Let cupcakes cool before icing!

Makes about 12 cupcakes.

Weekend Food Adventures in Kitchener-Waterloo

Hog Tails Barbeque, 645 Laurelwood Dr., Waterloo, ON

Pulled Pork Sandwich at Hog Tails

This is the pulled pork sandwich that Jonathan and I ordered.  It was tasty and very large – I wasn’t able to finish mine.  The coleslaw was fresh and didn’t have too much dressing on it.  In addition to the sandwiches we shared an order of sweet potato fries, with a spicy mayonnaise as a dip.  Definitely a good filling meal, and next time I will try out a pulled pork recipe of my own.

Starbucks Blonde Roast Coffee

Starbucks Blonde Roast

This coffee was sampled in hopes that it would not be as acidic as their regular coffee, which gives me stomachaches.  However, it was milder, but still not less acidic.  I simply cannot drink Starbucks coffee because of all of the wonderful coffee shops I was introduced to in Peterborough, Ontario that serve fair trade organic coffees. Recommended organic brands would be Planet Bean – roasted in Guelph, Ontario, Reunion Island and President’s Choice’s organic offerings.

Pakoras

Yummy pakoras!

Pakoras are an Indian breaded fried treat.  I was first introduced to these by the wonderful chefs also known as Jonathan’s parents.  While out on a trip to an Indian grocery store in Toronto, Jonathan picked up a mix to make them on our own.  Mushrooms and red bell peppers are what we made into pakoras.  With the mix, all we had to do was add water, stir, coat the vegies and deep fry! The second batch turned out best as the heat of the oil was more even.  A tamarind and date sauce would have been great with these.  Tamarind sauce is available at Longo’s.  The pakora mix can sometimes be found at Fresh Co.