Friday, January 30, 2015

January Food Hacks Roundup

2-Ingredient Pizza Dough
2-Ingredient Pizza Dough: Two-ingredient pizza dough is a thing, and it's actually really good! Check out my hack for making fantastic pizza dough with only two basic ingredients! I topped my pizza with a sweet and savoury combo of pears, prosciutto, BBQ sauce, and fresh arugula.
30-Second Meatballs
30-Second Meatballs: Hate the repetition of mixing and forming meatballs by hand? Then I've got just the hack for you with my 30-Seconds meatballs! These babies take literally seconds to form and mere minutes to cook, perfect for busy weeknights! 
Asian Sesame Salad in Wonton Cups

Asian Sesame Salad In Wonton Cups: You CAN make friends with salad, and this is just the hack to do it! Wonton wrappers make the perfect serving dish for Asian Sesame Salad when formed into muffin tins and baked until crispy!

Grilled Cheese Dippers
Grilled Cheese Dippers: Do you love taking your grilled cheese for a dip in tomato soup? This awesome fusion food combines two cheesy comfort food favourites (grilled cheese and cheese sticks!) for the ultimate lunchtime treat! 

Stay up to date with all of my food hacking tips and tricks by following me on the @FoodHacks Twitter page! 

Listening To:

Friday, January 23, 2015

Ina Knows Best: The Ultimate Aglio E Olio

It's 6:00 pm on a Wednesday and there's nothing to make for dinner! This may sound alarming for some, or perhaps may just be a warning to the lacklustre meal that is surely ahead, but to me it means that I'm in store for a delicious and satisfying dinner that will take minimal effort, and leave me with a full belly, leftovers for lunch, a smile on my face, and olive oil running down my chin. I'm talking about the beauty in the simplicity of Aglio E Olio, which translates to "garlic and oil" referring to the Italian quickie-meal, pasta (generally spaghetti) with garlic and olive oil. 

For something so incredibly simple, it's amazing how much of an impression this dish can make. My boyfriend, Chris, and his friends for one, adore this dish with such passion that I don't think there has been a gathering where the suggestion of making it hasn't come up. I've lost count of the number of times they have disputed who makes the best aglio e olio, or what little detail makes their aglio e olio stand out, because with a dish this straightforward it really is all in the details! 

Despite everyone thinking that their aglio e olio is the best, I have to give the top award to my dear lovely Ina Garten, because well, Ina knows best! When Chris first came across this recipe we were skeptical whether the method made any sense. It seemed incredibly strange to firstly, begin the whole process by cooking the pasta, secondly, to cook the garlic in so much pasta water (1 1/2 cups!). We were imagining noodles drowning in bland garlic water. How dare I distrust my dear future-best-friend, Ina! I should have known that Ina always knows best! Of course Ina's take on aglio e olio was absolutely fantastic, and quickly became my boyfriend and I's go-to dinner! The addition of the pasta water, reduced to enhance the flavour of the garlic, prevented us from feeling like we had to douse our pasta in cups of olive oil to impart flavour, as well as helping the olive oil and garlic sauce to stick to the noodles, thanks to the starch in the cooking water. 

Although Ina's recipe is great on it's own, I would suggest rendering down some pancetta or better yet, sopressata, at the beginning of cooking. Set meat aside after cooking and toss it in again at the end of cooking to reheat. That spicy, salty bite does wonders for this dish! Another great tip is to make some homemade garlic breadcrumbs to garnish the pasta to give a little bit of crunch to each bite. 

Check out Ina's recipe for Aglio E Olio here!

Listening To:
Caribou - Dive

Friday, January 9, 2015

Empty-The-Freezer Banana Nut Muffins

Happy new year, dear readers! I hope you all had a wonderful and safe holiday season and have already kicked off 2015 to a great start! I have spent the majority of 2015 laying on my couch being a nasty mucous monster (apologies for giving you such a gross visual on a food blog, of all places) and coughing up a storm to my not-so-new roommates delight (that's right friends, I have updates!). I, like it seems most people in Toronto as of late, have been struck with a vicious two-week long cold, leaving me largely immobile, lazy, and indulging in lots of self pity for my very gross and stuffed-up state. 

Over the last few days, as my energy has begun to come back and I've started to feel like a real human again, I've had a lot of time to reflect on this past year, looking at what I've accomplished, what I had hoped to accomplish, and what I want out of this new year. Just like many new years of past, I once again have vowed to myself to focus more on my blog, putting as much of my creative energy into it as possible. I know, for the past while I have totally fallen off the grid in terms of Ginger Rose, focusing my time and energy on an exciting new project (hello Kraft Food Hacks!) as well as a wonderful new living situation, that has allowed me to fall asleep and wake up with a smile on my face just about every single day. 

In October I moved into a beautiful condo with the man I love, which has given me a much needed fresh start as I begin a new phase of my life. This is the first time in my life that I have not lived under my mothers (and best friends!) roof, which, let me tell you, feels so incredibly liberating! Don't get me wrong, living with my mom was so lovely in so many ways, but being able to have this new sense of freedom and responsibility, while living side-by-side with my incredible boyfriend, Chris, has been amazing! 

I could go on and on listing all of the things that I adore about living on my own, but they would come as no surprise. The real surprise for me was discovering just how much I enjoy taking care of my own space, my own home. I love being able to take pride in having a clean, tidy, and stylish home that I am always so thrilled to welcome guests into. I look forward to coming home and fluffing the pillows and wiping the kitchen counter, just to stand back and view my space with the same satisfaction as receiving an 'A' on a University paper. Thank goodness Chris shares this same value or I would surely come across as some sort of psycho killer. Just like myself, Chris views maintaining our space as a fun activity that we can take part in together, almost like a real life game of Tetris. 

Last week, as 2014 was coming to a close, both Chris and I were feeling the need to rearrange parts of our space, giving it the same fresh start we knew we both needed this year. The first step in our mission was to tackle the freezer, going through each and every nook and cranny to eliminate all of the nonsense and organize the remnants of what was left. What was left was a drawer full of over 10 frozen bananas (are we monkeys?!), 4 containers of pecans, 3 bags of coconut, 2 bags of chocolate chips, and oh so very much more. There was no doubt about it, banana muffins were in order! 

I quickly found a simple and delicious-sounding banana muffin recipe that would allow me to use up as much of the bananas, coconut, and nuts from the freezer as physically possible. The muffins turned out incredible, with a sweet crumble topping giving the muffins a wonderful crunch, and nuts and chocolate chips in every bite! 

What are you hoping to accomplish this year? 

* This will allow your muffins to be extra moist!

Recipe adapted from
6 bananas, very ripe 
2 eggs
1 cup butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup pecans, chopped and lightly toasted 
3/4 cup chocolate chips
Crumble Topping:
4 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
2/3 cup quick-cooking oats
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin or line with paper liners.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the bananas and blend at medium-speed until mashed. 
  3. Add the eggs, melted butter, and vanilla and blend well to combine. 
  4. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. 
  5. With the mixer on low, add in the flour mixture in 4 increments, until just blended.  Stir in the pecans and chocolate chips by hand. 
  6. Fill the muffin cups 3/4 of the way up with the muffin batter. Fill any empty muffin cups half way with water.*
  7. In a small bowl mix together the crumble topping ingredients. Top each muffin evenly with the crumble topping and bake for 17-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean. Enjoy!

Listening To:
Caribou - Our Love