We usually look forward to the weekend so we can do the hobbies we enjoy or the activities that we we hadn’t had time for during the week. For me, the weekend in the winter could include a trip to a new cafe, a homemade meal (preferably something in the oven), and an hour on the couch reading my novel.
This weekend’s oven baked dish is the classical Melanzane Parmigiana, with a twist. It is a no-fuss recipe that requires no pre-cooking of the tomato sauce. In addition to the grilled eggplants, I roasted half a red bell pepper and finished with a mix of mozzarella and cheddar cheese. Follow the recipe step by step and you’ll end up with a finger-licking Melanzane Parmigiana!
Ingredients (for 2):
- 1 medium sized eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch circles
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into quarters
- Olive oil
- 1 can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- A handful of coarsely chopped basil leaves
- 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup of grated mozzarella and cheddar
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
1. On a baking sheet, brush the eggplant slices and the red pepper with olive oil on both sides and broil until brown. I peeled the red pepper after they grilled because I really dislike the skin when it comes off the pepper.
2. In a bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients except the two kinds of cheese. Mix well with a spoon.
3. In the baking dish, place the grilled eggplants at the bottom, spread the tomato sauce mix on top of them, sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over that, place the grilled red pepper, and finish with the mozzarella and cheddar cheese.
4. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the tomato sauce is boiling and the cheese has melted.
Eureka! I’ve found it. You count sheep, I could BREATHS!
When I cannot sleep, I simply do the 4-4-7. It is easy to remember and it always work for me, but you have to do it 8 consecutive times before it works. This is how to do it:
1. Relax all your muscles, starting from your toes all the way to your scalp.
2. Inhale slowly counting to 4 filling your belly with air.
3. Hold your breath in, count to 4.
4. Exhale slowly counting to 7, emptying your belly from air until your bellybutton sticks to your back.
Repeat at least 8 times. If your mind wanders away, simply bring it back to consciously follow your breath.
That’s the trick. Whether it is sheep or cows or your breath, you need to let you mind focus on one single thing until it relaxes and sleeps.
My dear friend of Fragole E Farfalle recommended that I listen to Get Lucky by Daft Punk while I am cooking to give my evening ritual a new twist or more life, especially when I am alone. And what a priceless piece of advice! I can’t stop moving!
First, I played the song over and over for 3 times. I couldn’t get enough. Then, I started dancing, so I played it for another 2 or 3 times. Later, I found myself writing this post. I had to share this contagious beat! I guess we sometimes forget that dancing doesn’t just belong in a club. And we also forget the power of music and beats. Music is the drive of life, I think. Love, too :)
I dedicate this song to all of you who need a little beat in their day. I suggest playing it anyway, it won’t hurt :)
It isn’t quite shiny this omelet, but it is colorful and inviting, isn’t it?
When your handsome is away and when it isn’t yet time to go out to browse the bookstores and settle in a cafe, what do you do?
Cook up brunch!
Today’s brunch is this wonderfully colorful omelet that brings sunshine to your kitchen even when it is -20 outside and snow is blowing in all directions.
Red Pepper, Zucchini, Onion, and Mushroom Omelet (For 2)
- 1/4 of a red pepper
- 1 small zucchini
- 1/2 an onion
- a handful of sliced fresh white mushrooms
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 eggs
- Cheese, I used Grana Padano, but feta would be perfect for this recipe too
- Herbs, I used fresh thyme, but some basil or parsley would also be good
1. Slice the onion and red pepper into thin strips (see photo), cut up the zucchini into capital Ds (see photo), and chop the mushrooms (see photo).
2. Heat the olive oil in a pan. Add vegetables and fry until tender and aromatic. Add some salt (1/4 of a tsp).
3. In a bowl, beat the eggs together. Add the cooked vegetables to the bowl, add the fresh thyme (or whatever herb you’re using) and give everything a quick stir.
4. Pour this mixture back into the hot pan. Lower heat and cover.
5. When the lower side of the omelet is golden and the upper side is dry but not fully cooked, flip the omelet. Use a spatula, or simply flip the omelet onto the lid of the pan and then slide it back into the pan with the golden cooked side up. Turn off the heat.
6. Slide the omelet onto your plate and grate some Padano cheese on it, or crumble some feta.
I scream, you scream, we all scream for SUNSHINE!
I don’t think there’s anyone in the whole wide world who doesn’t like sunshine. Find me someone who prefers a gray day over a sunny day and I’ll give them my bicycle, all my cookbooks, and my coffee maker. Sunshine can sometimes do more to lift my mood than chocolate, a pay rise, or a nice dream would. It doesn’t beat a genuine tight hug, but it definitely presents competition!
Living in this part of North America surely increases one’s appreciate for sun and its benefits, and I don’t know if that is a good thing or a bad thing. Sometimes it feels like a good thing to have something not so often so that you can appreciate it once it appears, and at other times it feels too much of a long wait, waiting for the sun to peak through the clouds and warm your bones, draw a smile on your face, and get you out of the house on a weekend morning.
In any case, I did appreciate the sun’s appearance this weekend. When I opened my eyes Saturday morning and saw the sun rays filtering through my bedroom curtain, my brain immediately jolted up! It’s here, the sun is here! My mind started racing with all the possibilities. What to do? Walk up the mountain? Go to a cafe and stick my face to the glass window facing the sun? Walk aimlessly around? Ice skating? Whatever option I was going to choose, it was going to involve one sure thing: sun worshiping!
Finally, I went for the simplest and most delicious option: I just walked to Second Cup, got myself a cup of mocha, half-sweet just like I like it, asked for whipped (I usually don’t), sprinkled chocolate on top and just … walked around! With a smile on my face. The sun does make you silly. But happy.
My very good friend Cartoline doesn’t stop talking about coffee, and frankly, I don’t know why I don’t talk about coffee as much as she does! I love coffee with a passion, and I am not an addict! I enjoy the taste, punto. I do not need it every morning; I can start a productive day without a cup of coffee. However, everyday I make sure that I have at least 30 minutes to unwind with a cup of latte, whether I prepare it myself at home or go to a neighborhood cafe for it.
Besides enjoying the taste of a good cup of coffee, I enjoy the experience of being in a cafe. I do not just go to a cafe to sip my coffee and leave. I do that in Rome. Over here, going to a cafe is a stimulating experience for me. From the moment I step into the cafe until I leave an hour or so later, my mind is happy. I love looking at the interior decor of the cafe, observing the staff and how they prepare coffee, and checking out the wall of advertisements for cultural happenings. I love to actually listen to the music playing, and to hear the chatter of the people and feel the warmth of a packed cafe. Can you think of a better way to spend a grey Sunday evening alone in the winter?! So you see, going to a cafe is an outing for me, an activity, something I have always enjoyed doing, something I don’t feel shy admitting.
All this introduction to bring you to the following: This year, I have made a small promise to myself: I am going to explore cafes in other neighborhoods in Montreal, and it turns out that there is actually a passport for that, the Indie Coffee Passport! What is that?
It is a a pass for 18 different coffee shops in different neighborhoods in Montreal. You buy the pass and then you get one cup of coffee at each of the participating coffee shops. As simple as that. Of course, you can read more at their website.
I will let you know when I buy the pass and hopefully I’ll be able to take good shots and write a good post for each coffee experience!
What kind of coffee machine/pot do I use? The one in the photo. What coffee do I buy? Oftentimes it is Cafe Cubita.
I have been to St. Joseph Oratory in Spring, but I have never visited it in winter. I knew that it would be lovely, so I headed there this evening with a couple of friends with the intention of taking photos and relaxing in the warmth of the churches. I managed to come out with these photos. I hope you like them!
You know how Bob Dylan is “music for the mind?”
Of course you do.
Well, if you are a lover of Dylan music, poetry, and/or voice, then I am guessing you (would) also love Thomas Fersen. I know I do. Just like Bob Dylan can take on a trip on his magic swirlin’ ship of genius, I think this album for Fersen has come close to leaving me in the same state of positive stupor.
My recommended unwinding activity for a Sunday evening at home while the washing machine is tumbling, the neighbors making love, and the autumn wind blowing away the last standing leaves? Turn off all lights, sit or lie down in a mediation position and let either Dylan or Fersen take you on a trip.
How I miss rice! I have no dietary restrictions and I can eat rice every day if I want to, but for some reason, I forget about the little guy and always go for pasta. Bad bad bad! Here’s a rich and colorful rice dish to celebrate my reunion with Arborio rice specifically.
Now the photo isn’t very appetizing (we were very hungry, I didn’t have time to take out my equipment), but take my word when I say it’s a delicious and easy rice dish to prepare.
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 1.5 cups of Arborio rice
- A bag of frozen shrimp
- 1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1.5 cups of sweet peas (I used frozen)
- 1 small Spanish onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- Olive oil
- A generous pinch of saffron (soak in a few Tbsp of warm water until you need to add them in the recipe)
- 1/2 tsp of cumin
- 1/2 tsp of paprika
1. Heat some olive oil in a pot and stir fry the shrimp for ten minutes. Add the water needed for 1.5 cups of Arborio rice (check the packet for instructions) and bring it to boil, cover, simmer for 10 minutes.
2. In another larger pot, heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil to fry the onions and garlic. After 5 minutes, add the chopped red bell pepper and the sweet peas. Stir and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Add the rice and give everything a good mix together. Add the spices and salt.
4. Add the shrimps and the liquid that they were boiling in. We sort of have shrimp broth now. Bring everything to boil. Cover, simmer, and leave it to slowly cook for a a good half hour. Don’t turn off the heat until you make sure that the rice is fluffy and has absorbed all the liquid.
5. When it’s ready, give it a good mix and ENJOY! Delizioso!