Home Cooking with Gordon Ramsay-Beef Meatballs with Orecchiette, Kale and Pine Nuts

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When I see Gordon Ramsay cook, I see a chef who has enormous passion for excellent food. You can see the excitement in his eyes as he describes the way the sauce should taste or how the meat is cooked to perfection. He loves his craft and he loves to teach others.

This Michelin star chef is no stranger to the camera with all of his TV shows like Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, Hotel Hell and Masterchef US. He has shown us that he can run a kitchen and scare young apprentices half to death, if they make a mistake.

With his Ultimate Home Cooking series, he has shown us his other side. He has shown us that he is a husband and father of four budding chefs; his children. While he cooks with his family, you can see that they love this special time with their father. It is clear that they have cooked together, often.

I really enjoyed watching the series, so I bought the cookbook. It is a wonderful compilation of recipes that you will want to cook for your family and friends.

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The recipes are divided into chapters like Classics with a Twist, Good Food for Less, Cooking for Friends, Cooking in Advance; to name a few. Each section offers a variety of dishes that inspire the casual dining that most of us enjoy so well. These are recipes that you would make for a family dinner, a brunch for friends, or an intimate evening with someone special.

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Recipes that I have tried from this book include:

Pork Chops and Peppers

and

Beef Meatballs with Orecchiette, Kale and Pine Nuts (see below)

The instructions are very clear, the photos are beautiful, and the ingredients are items that most of us have easy access to.

I am really excited to try more of the recipes from this book! They are not written so that you need to be a Michelin Star chef to prepare them. This book is for anyone who loves to cook at home.

Orechietti-and-meetballs

Beef Meatballs with Orecchiette, Kale and Pine Nuts

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 lb. dried orecchiette pasta
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
8 oz. kale, shredded
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to taste

For the meatballs:

1 small onion, peeled and finely diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
1 tsp. dried chili flakes
1 lb. ground beef
2/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
3-4 tbsp. milk

Directions:

First prepare the meatballs. Saute the onion and garlic with salt and pepper to taste in a hot oiled frying pan for about 5 minutes until soft and lightly coloured, adding the chili flakes after a minute or two. Place the beef in a large bowl and add salt and pepper. Put the breadcrumbs in a separate bowl and moisten with milk. Add salt and pepper, then stir the breadcrumbs and onion mixture into the beef and combine well. With wet hands, shape the beef mixture into small balls about ¾ inch wide. Transfer to a lightly greased baking sheet and chill for 30 minutes until firm.

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente, according to the package instructions.

Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over medium heat and add a little olive oil. Brown the meatballs for 6 minutes until coloured on all sides. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for 2 minutes until tender, then add the kale and season with salt and pepper. Sweat the kale over medium heat for 5 minutes with a couple of tablespoons of cooking water form the pasta. Taste to adjust the seasoning as necessary, then stir in the pine nuts.

Drain the pasta, reserving a few tablespoons of cooking water. Tip the pasta into the pan with the meatballs and stir over medium heat until well mixed. Add a good handful of finely grated Parmesan cheese and mix well with a little cooking water to help coat the pasta. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Serve garnished with another grating of Parmesan.

Recipe from Gordon Ramsay’s Home Cooking

I got my copy of the cookbook at Amazon.com

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Not Your Mother’s Mac and Cheese

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This past week has not been what we had expected.

Last weekend, Toronto was hit with a major ice storm and 300,000 homes were left without heat or power. Many homes did not have power for the holidays, forcing some families to make other arrangements for accommodations and meals. Some families lost all of their food and could not cook Christmas dinner as planned. Since hundreds of flights were cancelled, others never made it home to see their families.

It made me think about what is really important at Christmas. Is it really the turkey dinner with all of the trimmings? Is it the presents under the tree? Or, is it a time for helping others?

Hydro-electric linesmen from across the country left their homes to come to Toronto and have been working all through the holidays to fix the problems. Emergency workers put in extra shifts, while hospital staff were working on generator power trying to keep patients safe and warm. These people all gave, selflessly, to help others in a time of crisis.

Families had to adapt and find ways to keeps warm and fed. Communities pulled together to help one another through a difficult time.

I think we all learned a lesson on what is truly important this Christmas. We learned it is not the presents or the Boxing Day sales. We learned that it is more important to help one another and to give help to those who are in need.

Now that most of the lights are back on and we are toasty and warm, all I want to eat is comfort food.

I have always loved macaroni and cheese, but as a grown up I prefer a more interesting version of this classic dish. I found this one on Saveur.com and it has a perfect blend of Swiss and Italian cheeses that creates a wonderful flavour experience, suitable for the grown up or the kid in all of us.

Artisanal Macaroni and Cheese

Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

Kosher salt
12 oz. hollow pasta, like cavatelli or penne
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups grated Gruyère cheese
1 1/2 cups grated Comté cheese
1 1/2 cups grated Fontina cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.

Bring a 4-qt. saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until not quite al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain pasta, transfer to a bowl, and set aside.

Melt 3 tbsp. of the butter in a 4-qt. saucepan over low heat. Add the bread crumbs and Parmesan, toss to combine, and transfer to a small bowl.

Wipe out the saucepan and set over medium heat. Melt the remaining butter and whisk in the flour until smooth. Whisk in the milk and cook, continuing to whisk often, until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Stir in the Gruyère, 1 cup of the Comté, and 1 cup of the Fontina and whisk until the cheese is melted and incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. Remove pan from heat and stir in the reserved pasta.

Pour the mixture into a 2-qt. baking dish and top with the remaining Comté and Fontina. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over the top and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe from Saveur.com

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Apple and Provolone Risotto Fresh From the Farm

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In support of eating locally, my daughters and I decided to go apple picking this fall. I consulted our local pick your own website and found dozens of farms offering apples. Since we also needed to buy some bake goods we decided to go to Chudleigh’s Apple Farm in Milton, Ontario. It is only an hour from downtown Toronto, where we live.

Chudleigh’s offers a number of activities for families including a petting zoo, hay stacks for climbing, and hay rides to the picking site. Most importantly, they offered a very large selection of apple varieties. We decided to pick Honey Crisps for eating, Galas for cooking as well as a bag of Northern Spy for baking pies.

When we arrived we were already hungry so we ordered an apple bumble and some coffee at the snack bar before heading out to the fields. Once we were ready we were driven out to the fields on a tractor pulled hay wagon. It was very well organized. Every section of the orchard was segmented for a specific apple variety. Depending on the time of year that the apples are ready for picking, you are able to pick the varieties offered during that week.

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We had so much fun riding around the orchard and seeing the families wander up and down the rows. Children were so excited to be able to pick an apple and taste it right away. We spent the day enjoying the crisp fall weather and the charming surroundings.

it had been years since the last time we went apple picking. I enjoyed the day so much I think I will make it an annual event. Next year I will try a different orchard.

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The thing I liked the best was bringing home 3 large bags of apples. First, I baked some apple pie for our Thanksgiving dinner. Then, I made some pork chops with grilled apples and finally, I made this delicious Apple and Provolone Risotto. I modified the recipe to use apple cider as part of the liquids which gave the risotto a sweet and salty taste with the cheese. I would serve it on its own or as a side dish with lamb or chicken.

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Apple and Provolone Risotto

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

1/3 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt
2 firm, sweet apples (such as Gala or Braeburn), peeled, cored, cut into ¼-inch dice
1 3/4 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup apple cider or apple juice
1 cup aged provolone cheese, coarsely grated
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

In a large saucepan, combine onion, 1 tablespoon butter, oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 7 minutes.

Add apples; cook, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes more.

Add rice; cook, stirring frequently, until rice is translucent, about 4-6 minutes.

Add white wine, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until liquid is mostly evaporated, then add 1/2 cup apple cider. Cook, stirring constantly, until broth is mostly absorbed.

Continue adding the rest of the apple cider and then the broth in 1/2 cupfuls, stirring constantly, and allowing each addition to mostly absorb before adding the next, until rice is tender yet firm to the bite (you may have broth left over).

Remove pan from heat. Stir in remaining tablespoon butter, cheese, 1/4 teaspoon salt and generous pinch pepper, then cover and let stand 2 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve immediately.

Recipe modified from La Cucina Italiana-November 2013

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Wild Mushroom Pizza

I took Victoria, my bicycle, out for her first ride of the season last week since I had not ridden her for months. Last fall I stored her in a safe bike rack close to the door of my building’s underground parking lot. That way I was able to see her and wave to her as I drove out of the lot or could check on her from time to time over the winter.

Now that spring is here it was time to take her out for a tune up and cleaning so she will be ready for the season.

I will admit I was a little nervous that I had forgotten all that I learned last season. I wondered if I would be able to ride as well, or as far. Thankfully; I was fine. The feeling of freedom as we made our way down to the lake on the bike trails was invigorating. I had not lost my ability to ride and I felt alive and excited to be out with Victoria again.

I look forward to a new season of adventures on Toronto’s bike trails, parks and beaches.

I also look forward to being able to go to the local outdoor farmer’s markets again. There are a number of markets held across the city where local farmers bring their fresh produce, meats and cheeses each week. It is a wonderful treat to pick up some fresh vegetables and take them home for the evening meal. Many of the local farmers bring organic foods, which I prefer.

I adapted this Wild Mushroom Pizza from a few different recipes and a few of my own ideas. I hope you enjoy it.

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Wild Mushroom Pizza

Ingredients:
1 tsp. sugar
1 package quick-rise yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cornmeal
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps
2 cups thinly mixed wild mushrooms such as oyster, king oyster, enoki, cremini, and chanterelle
2 1/4 cups fontina cheese, diced
1½ cups fresh ricotta cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Dissolve the sugar and yeast in warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 1 1/4 cups flour and 1/4 tsp. salt to yeast mixture, and stir until a soft dough forms.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky).
Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in size. Punch dough down; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; sprinkle with cornmeal.

Roll dough into a 12-inch circle on a floured surface. Place dough on prepared baking sheet and let rise 10 minutes.

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Preheat oven to 475°F.
While dough rises, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1/4 tsp. salt and mushrooms, and cook 7 minutes or until mushrooms are soft.
Sprinkle 1 cup of the fontina and ricotta evenly over dough, and arrange the mushroom mixture evenly over fontina. Sprinkle remaining fontina and Parmesan cheese evenly over top.

Bake at 475°F for 15 minutes or until crust is lightly browned.

Remove to cutting board, and season with sea salt and pepper.

Cut into slices. Serve immediately.

Asparagus, Fingerling Potato and Goat Cheese Pizza

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Writing a food blog is about passion. You need to have passion for food, for cooking, for baking or for sharing your love of life. I am passionate about the joy that great food brings to our lives. Many of my fondest memories include times when I have shared meals with my dear old friends, loved ones and new friends. It is amazing how you can bring people together by sharing a meal with them.

I remember times when I was a child and my family was all gathered around a table having a traditional Sunday dinner. When we got older and moved out on our own we started to experiment with different cuisines. We would gather together a my sister’s ski chalet and create amazing dinners with each person taking responsibility for a course. We experimented with fine French cooking and many Italian dishes. Fondues were a popular way to warm up the evening.

In those days we would all return from a day of skiing and gather around the fire with a glass of wine to recant they day’s events. The stories were always entertaining. Some of us were racers; skiing with the best on the mountain. Others were eager to learn and happy to just enjoy the sunshine and the exercise. I was one of the latter. I never really got to be an expert skier but I always enjoyed the day. I looked forward to coming home to a great meal, a glass of wine by the fire and great times with family and friends.

Last week I went back to Blue Mountain for the first time in many years. The mountain has undergone major development and there is an amazing ski village at the foot of the hill. We stayed in a beautiful condo about 100 yards from the lodge the had a fireplace and a full kitchen. It was like being there so many years ago. A glass of wine by the fire, followed by a dinner in a local bistro made all of those wonderful memories come rolling back.

While we were there we were hit with a major snow storm. We woke up to snow-covered trees right outside our door and a winter wonderland that was breathtaking. Everything was covered in a blanket of sparkling white, fluffy snow. Our thoughts were so far from the drive home. All we were thinking about was living in the moment. My skills on the hills are still not the best, but I had a wonderful time.

I still am experimenting with new foods and discovering new cuisines but I still love to cook Italian food. I enjoy discovering new ways to bake a pizza. This recipe offers a sensational combination of fingerling potatoes, goat cheese and asparagus. This vegetarian pizza is a healthy, yet delicious choice.

Asparagus, Fingerling Potato, and Goat Cheese Pizza

Makes 4 -6 servings

Ingredients:

5 ounces fingerling potatoes
Cornmeal or Semolina (for sprinkling)
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Pizza dough (for recipe see below)
1 garlic clove, pressed
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 1/3 cups grated mozzarella cheese
4 oz. soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled
8 oz. asparagus, trimmed, each spear cut in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 2 to 3-inch pieces
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

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Directions:

Place potatoes in small saucepan. Cover with salted water to 1 inch above the potatoes. Bring to boil and cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and let cool. Cut potatoes into thin slices.

Preheat oven to 500°F.

Place pizza stone in bottom 1/3 of the oven to heat. Sprinkle with ¼ cup cornmeal.

Roll and stretch pizza dough to 16 inch round. Transfer to a pizza paddle that has also been sprinkled with cornmeal.

Mix 1 tablespoon olive oil and garlic in small bowl. Brush garlic oil over dough. Sprinkle green onions over dough, then mozzarella, leaving 1/2-inch plain border. Top with potato slices and goat cheese. Toss asparagus and 1 tablespoon oil in a medium-sized bowl. Scatter asparagus over pizza. Sprinkle with Parmesan, then lightly with salt and generously with pepper.

Reduce the oven temperature to 450°F.

Slide pizza from pizza paddle to pizza stone carefully.

Bake pizza until crust is browned and asparagus is tender, about 16-18 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board. Cut into pieces.

Recipe modified from Epicurious.com

For Pizza Dough recipe click here

Happiness is Green Apple Risotto

The Holiday Season is a season of celebration. Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving in October and are already gearing up for the holidays at the end of December and early January. The United States will also be celebrating its Thanksgiving holiday later this month. No matter what your religion or nationality, this is a busy time of year.

In the spirit of celebration and thankfulness I decided to post the top ten things that fill my life with happiness. These are not just my favourite things;  they are the reasons that I smile and the driving force behind what I do every day.

10 things that make me happy:

  1. My 3 beautiful daughters who have grown into wonderful women. They are all building wonderful careers and lives which make me so proud of the people that they have become.
  2. My 2 lovely grandchildren who look at me with a childlike wonder in their eyes that reminds me of the innocence of youth.
  3. The special man in my life who takes care of me, supports me and believes in me, no matter how big my dreams become.
  4. My passion for photography which has grown with each passing year.
  5. Writing a food blog which has taught me about discipline and about food, cooking and cultures.
  6. Enjoying great food in the company of close friends and family.
  7. Being active and eating healthy.
  8. Spending time learning. I hope I never stop learning and searching for information.
  9. Traveling to new places that broaden my perspective on the world.
  10. Nature-I love to go for walks, long hikes and bike rides where I can enjoy parks, forests, lakes and oceans.

I would also like to celebrate that my new website went live this week. www.peggymcgillphotography.com

The following recipe is an interesting version of classic risotto. Since apples are so abundant at this time of year I thought it would be a nice change from the more traditional version.

Green Apple Risotto

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

5 cups chicken stock
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/8 inch slices
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
1/4 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
salt and pepper
Directions:
In a medium saucepan, heat the chicken stock to a simmer and place on a back burner over low heat.
In a 4 to 6 quart pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and the olive oil until melted together. Add the onion and cook over medium heat until soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the apples and rice and cook 3 to 4 minutes, until the rice has a pearly opaque appearance. Add the wine and simmer until it has evaporated.
Add enough warm chicken stock to cover the rice and cook until the level of liquid goes below the top of the rice. Continue cooking, adding stock and stirring constantly, until most of the stock is gone, 15 to 18 minutes. The rice should be tender but still retain an al dente bite.
Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, the grated cheese and parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with additional grated cheese on the side.

Recipe from Simple Italian Food by Mario Batali

Farmer’s Market Pappardelle

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be”-Douglas Adams

It is amazing how we can go through life trying to find the path that we are supposed to take. We try heading down one road and then decide to turn down another to see where it leads. For some of us it leads to a place where we feel at home. For others it leads to a place where we feel uncomfortable and then we know we need to take a different path at the next fork in the road.

I have had my share of discomfort in my life, but the path that I am on now is leading me to a place of growth. Each day I am challenging myself a little more with my fitness routine and in my personal life. I have always been a lifelong learner and have loved to explore the world. Recently I have added physical training to my education. Each day I feel healthier, stronger and more in control of my life than I have in years. I also find that my mind is clear and my creative juices are overflowing.

“You will recognize your own path when you come upon it, because you will suddenly have all the energy and imagination that you will ever need.”-Jerry Gilles

I know that I have so much yet to learn and so many challenges yet to face. Instead of being intimidated by this I am finding myself looking forward to each day and each new experience. A friend of mine once told me that I was carrying a bag of rocks on my back that each represented a hurt from that past that I carried with me. The bag was really heavy. He said that I brought my past into my present and let the rocks cloud my judgement. One by one, I am tossing the rocks as I travel down the road.

I can almost relate this journey to the one that Elizabeth Gilbert wrote about in Eat, Pray, Love. Well almost………. I always wondered why she left Italy and stopped eating. I would have stayed in Italy forever sipping espresso in the morning and red wine in the evening and feasting on plates of homemade pasta. I guess I never understood that she needed to experience the rest of the journey in order to find out who she was.

“When your heart speaks, take good notes”-Judith Campbell

There is a lot that I don’t know about life, but I do know that I love to eat. Food is the essence of our lives, it is the centre of our family gatherings and the tradition that we pass on to our children. This Farmer’s Market Pappardelle provides a nice seasonal take on the traditional pasta. The fresh from the market vegetables make this a light, healthy vegetarian meal fit for any dinner party.

Farmers’ Market Pappardelle

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp. sherry vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 ½ lb. multi-coloured, multi-sized cherry tomatoes, halved
3 ears corn on the cob shucked
1 ½ lb. medium zucchini
½ cup thinly sliced red onion (optional)
9 oz. dried egg pappardelle
¼ lb. sugar snap peas
1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
½ cup mint leaves
1/3 cup snipped chives
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for shavings

Directions 

Bring 6-8  quarts of salted water to a boil.

While water is boiling mince and mash garlic to a paste with a ½ teaspoon of salt, then stir together with the vinegar, oil and 1 tsp. salt in a large bowl, Add tomatoes and stir gently. Set aside.

Cook corn in boiling water for 4- 6 minutes, remove with tongs and set aside.

Into a medium bowl, peel lengthwise ribbons from the zucchini with a vegetable peeler, stopping when you come to the seedy core. Turn zucchini a quarter turn and repeat. Repeat until all four sides have been ribboned.

Slice corn off of the cob and add to the tomatoes.

Cook pappardelle until al dente. Just before pasta is done add zucchini and snow peas to the pot and boil for 30 seconds. Drain pasta and vegetable together in a large colander. Add the tomato mixture and onions and toss gently.

Add herbs, toss gently and serve.

Recipe from Gourmet Easy Dinners Magazine

Panzanella with Roasted Peppers, Tomatoes and Basil

This has been a weekend of sporting events. Last night the Stanley Cup Playoffs game between the New Jersey Devils and the L. A. Kings ended with a 3 game to 2 lead for L.A. In spite Los Angeles having a 3-0 lead in the series, the Devils worked hard to regain their competitive place in this challenging series.

The NBA eastern conference semi-finals ended last night as the Miami Heat won over the Boston Celtics in game 7 of the series. I was sad to see the Celtics lose because they are a team steeped in history and have a line up that belongs in the basketball hall of fame. There was a lot of media hype about the age of the players but in my mind they played each game with the wisdom and perseverance of a seasoned team.

Today the Euro 2012 soccer matches are broadcasting throughout the day. Earlier today, long time rivals Italy and Spain ended their match in a 1-1 tie. My daughter, son-in-law and grandson came over to watch the Ireland vs Croatia match. My son-in-law is from Dublin and played soccer there as a young boy. My 17 month old grandson is already starting to kick around a soccer ball.

I think watching sports together as a family builds bonds and lasting memories. We each take our own perspective and vote for our favourite teams or players. We make sportsmen’s bets on who will win and get very excited as we watch each play unfold.

It makes me feel contented to have the kids over for an afternoon game and a meal. I love to make simple, comforting food for everyone to enjoy. This Italian Panzanella is a hearty peasant style salad made from tomatoes, roasted red peppers and stale bread. The flavours of the oil, the fresh basil and vegetables are infused into the bread creating a burst of flavour in every bite.

Panzanella with Roasted Peppers, Tomatoes and Basil

Ingredients

6 oz. stale country bread, cut into 1/4 inch cubes (about 4 cups of cubes)
1 red roasted bell pepper, roughly diced
1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
coarse salt
freshly ground black pepper
large handful fresh basil leaves

Directions

Combine bread, peppers, and tomatoes together in a bowl. Whisk the vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, and anchovies together in a small bowl and drizzle over salad. Tear the basil, toss everything together with your hands, and let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Distribute the panzanella on plates, drizzling each with a little extra virgin olive oil and serve.

Recipe modified from My Father’s Daughter by Gwyneth Paltrow

Prosciutto and Melon Pasta Salad

I have spent the last week continuing on this journey of developing a healthier lifestyle. On Friday I did my longest bike ride ever and lived to tell the tale. We traveled down to the beach bike trail and along the trail to Toronto’s Historic Distillery District. After enjoying a hot chocolate at Balzac’s Coffee Roasters and a chocolate truffle at Soma Chocolatemaker we headed back. I know what you are thinking; how does chocolate fit into this healthy lifestyle? I am a firm believer that dark chocolate can be a healthy treat if enjoyed in moderation. Believe me having only one chocolate truffle from this artisanal chocolatemaker is extreme moderation. They have the most amazing chocolate in town.

http://www.somachocolate.com

In addition to this 22km ride, I have kept up my walking and my Zumba workouts. I am so pleased with how good I am feeling and how much energy I have. I am also thrilled that I can get into clothes that have not fit for the past few years.

It is amazing what a positive impact this change has had on me. In spite of a bumpy start with a bike accident a few weeks ago,  I am feeling great. I feel more alert and less stressed. I spend less time watching life on TV and more time living it. I am just happy to be alive.

I have kept to a healthy diet filled with salads, vegetables, protein and light dinners. This has inspired me to find new and interesting salad recipes like this Prosciutto and Melon Pasta Salad. You can substitute the farfalle with gluten-free pasta if you prefer.

Ingredients

8 oz. uncooked farfalle pasta
1 ½ tbsp. lime juice
1 ½ tbsp. white wine vinegar
¼ tsp. Dijon mustard
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 glove garlic, finely chopped
2 ½ tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup baby arugula
¼ cup diced cantaloupe
¼ cup shallots, thinly sliced
2 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into 2 inch strips
1 oz. shaved Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese

Directions

Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain; cool to room temperature.

Combine juice, vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, olive oil and garlic in a bowl, mix until well blended.

Combine cooked pasta, arugula, cantaloupe, shallots and prosciutto in a large bowl. Drizzle dressing over salad, toss, top with cheese shavings and serve.

Recipe modified from Cooking Light 12