Israeli Couscous with Pesto & Veggies

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Couscous was something I had multiple times a week as a baby and now, at age almost-twenty, it’s still a favourite (although I’ve come a long way from eating it off a highchair tray). The Israeli variation just makes recipes slightly more interesting, it steps up any simple salad. It’s great, versatile base that can really be mixed with anything, approved by babies and adults alike.

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups israeli couscous

1 1/2 cups fresh basil

1 clove garlic

3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup pine nuts

3 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp lemon juice

Salt

Pepper

1/2 red onion

1 small zucchini

1 pepper

Chili flakes

1.In a medium pot, bring the couscous and 3 cups of water to a boil. Cover, turn heat to low and let cook for about 10 minutes or until all the water is absorbed and the couscous is tender.DSC00336 2. To make the pesto, combine the basil, garlic, cheese, pine nuts, oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt in a blender until smooth. Set asideDSC00340 DSC003493. Heat some olive oil in a sauté pan. Slice the onion and cook for a few minutes, then add the chopped pepper and zucchini as well. Cook until veggies are tender and begin to brown DSC00344 4. To assemble the salad, spread the couscous in a large bowl and mix in the pesto and veggies. Stir well and top with salt, pepper and chili flakes. Enjoy!
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Chocolate & Peanut Dipped Cherries

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Desert | July 26, 2016 | By

This is hardly a recipe. It’s a fridge full of fresh summer fruit and a sweet tooth after work. It’s something to pop in your mouth while you’re making dinner and are too hungry to wait for it to be ready. It’s a little bit of sweet with a little bit of antioxidant. 4 ingredients to enjoy on a deck, porch or patio, savouring the simplicity of the season. 

You can easily adapt this recipe based on how many cherries you’d like to make (I did 10)

Ingredients:

10 ripe cherries

1/4 cup chocolate, or chocolate chips

About 3 tbsp peanuts (raw or roasted)

Sea salt

  1. Wash however many cherries you’re using

DSC00317 2. Place the chocolate in a small bowl and heat – on the stove or in the microwave – until melted, stirring often DSC00324 4. Chop the peanuts as finely as you can. The smaller they are, the more easily they will stick to the chocolate.

5. Line a plate with parchment paper and assemble all ingredients. Dip each cherry into the chocolate, roll in the chopped peanuts, sprinkle with salt and place on the plate. 
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6. Let them set in the fridge and enjoy!

Peanut Butter – Banana – Chocolate Smoothie Bowl

Photo by Nathalie Kent

It’s the little things that can make or break your morning: your favourite song on the radio, a good hair day or catching all green lights to work. So, at least for me, taking a few extra minutes to make an aesthetically pleasing breakfast can put you on track for a great day – because everything tastes better when it looks good. Whether it’s to post on instagram or just for yourself, this breakfast is healthy and filling while feeling like a treat. And gearing up for a few days of 40 degree humidity, it’ll be a refreshing part of your morning before the rush (and heat) of life sets in. (Scroll to the bottom of this post for a recipe card for easier printing/saving)

1 frozen banana

4 tbsp non-dairy/dairy milk (I used cashew milk)

1 tbsp peanut butter

1 tbsp cacao powder (or cocoa powder)

Ice

Chia seeds

Coconut flakes

Blueberries

  1. Blend the frozen banana with 2 tbsp milk in a blender on low speed until it is smooth and creamy. (You can use fresh bananas but it will give the smoothie a thinner consistency)

    Photo by Nathalie Kent

    Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

2. Add peanut butter, cacao powder and a handful of ice to the mix. Add the other 2 tbsp milk and blend again until smooth.

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

3. Using a spatula, scrape the mixture into a bowl and smooth over the top to make a flat surface

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

4. Top with anything you’d like! I used coconut, chia seeds and fruit. Dig in and enjoy.

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie Bowl
Serves 1
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250 calories
37 g
0 g
11 g
7 g
4 g
439 g
138 g
16 g
0 g
6 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
439g
Servings
1
Amount Per Serving
Calories 250
Calories from Fat 95
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 11g
17%
Saturated Fat 4g
18%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 138mg
6%
Total Carbohydrates 37g
12%
Dietary Fiber 6g
25%
Sugars 16g
Protein 7g
Vitamin A
2%
Vitamin C
17%
Calcium
5%
Iron
9%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 frozen banana
  2. 4 tbsp non-dairy/dairy milk (I used cashew milk)
  3. 1 tbsp peanut butter
  4. 1 tbsp cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
  5. Ice
  6. Chia seeds
  7. Coconut flakes
  8. Blueberries
Instructions
  1. 1. Blend frozen banana with 2 tbsp milk until smooth and creamy
  2. 2. Add peanut butter, cacao powder, ice and the remaining 2 tbsp of milk and blend again.
  3. 3. Using a spatula, scrape into a bowl and smooth the surface.
  4. 4. Top with whatever you'd like. I used chia seeds, coconut flakes and blueberries.
  5. Dig in and enjoy!
Notes
  1. You can use fresh bananas in this but the smoothie mixture will be thinner.
beta
calories
250
fat
11g
protein
7g
carbs
37g
more
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Peach, Chevre and Caramelized Onion Flatbread Pizza

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Dinner, Starters | July 4, 2016 | By

Cooking dinner for a friend yesterday, I realized how much I genuinely enjoy preparing meals for other people. It never feels like work or a hassle, I am always motivated and happy to plan, shop for and prepare meals. And what better thing to make for others than pizza, having to be the most universally enjoyed food. Although I set out with the intention of making a flatbread with this recipe, they look more like pizzas. But the great thing about dough is that it can be made into so many things, and regardless it turned out to be a great dinner. And best of all is the satisfaction that comes from putting a dish in front of someone with something you’ve created. Foodie or not, the joy of cooking for others is a pretty great feeling.

Ingredients:

Pizza dough (I used this recipe)

Olive oil

1 cup chèvre cheese (or any goat cheese)

1 peach

1/2 cup kale

1/4 cup fresh basil 

Salt

Pepper

2 tbsp butter

2 white onions

1 tbsp brown sugar 

Chilli flakes 

Balsamic vinegar 

  1. Preheat your BBQ to high heat or about 450 degrees
  2. Make the dough and roll out onto oiled pizza pans. I split the mixture in half but you could do one big flatbread – if you have a big enough pan!
Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

3. Drizzle the dough with oil, then crumble the cheese and sprinkle on top too

4. Chop the peach, kale and basil and place on the dough as well

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place on the grill with the lid down. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the breads have puffed up and are golden brown. (Check often to make sure they aren’t burning on the bottom!)

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

6. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a pan and slice the onions. Add to to the pan along with brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often until they are golden brown.

7. When the pizzas are done, take them off the grill and place on a wire rack to cook. Top with caramelized onions and sprinkle with salt, pepper and chilli flakes. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Roasted Beet Caprese

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My dad is notorious for eating whatever is put in front of him at the dinner table and unfailingly complimenting it – whether deserved or not. But father’s day called for a special meal, something that he would genuinely enjoy and cover all the bases of his favourite foods. While my mum grilled steak – a father’s day must – I was in charge of the sides. I love caprese’s because they act as a rich, savory side disguised as a vegetable dish. And defying the norm by being the raw-tomato-hater that I am, I swapped in roasted beets (fitting the usual colour scheme and adding a sweetness to the dish). It was the perfect way to round out our dinner and end a warm weekend.  (a condensed version of this recipe – without pictures – will be at the end of the post for easier printing)

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 large beets

3 tbsp olive oil

Kosher salt

1 tbsp dried rosemary

Mozzarella (I used a 340g package)

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Handful of fresh basil

Black pepper

 1. Preheat your oven to 475 degrees F

2. Thinly slice the beets (I just rinse them and leave the skin on) and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paperDSC00248 3. Drizzle with 2 tbsp of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and the rosemary. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until beets are tender and slightly crispy at the edges. DSC00249
DSC00267 4. While the beets are cooking, slice the cheese into thin rounds as well. DSC00258 5. Roughly chop the basil and mix together with the remaining 1 tbsp of oil, the balsamic, a pinch of salt and some black pepper. DSC00265 6. To assemble, cut the beet and cheese rounds in half. Layer on a serving platter, then drizzle with the balsamic mixture. Enjoy!
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Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 large beets

3 tbsp olive oil

Kosher salt

1 tbsp dried rosemary

Mozzarella (I used a 340g package)

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Handful of fresh basil

Black pepper

 1. Preheat your oven to 475 degrees F

2. Thinly slice the beets (I just rinse them and leave the skin on) and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper

3. Drizzle with 2 tbsp of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and the rosemary. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until beets are tender and slightly crispy at the edges. 

4. While the beets are cooking, slice the cheese into thin rounds as well.

5. Roughly chop the basil and mix together with the remaining 1 tbsp of oil, the balsamic, a pinch of salt and some black pepper. 

6. To assemble, cut the beet and cheese rounds in half. Layer on a serving platter, then drizzle with the balsamic mixture. Enjoy!

 

Avocado and Mango Salsa Crostini

Mango Salsa and Avocado Crostini

For the month of June, I am eating a strictly vegan diet. I’m doing it as a sort of trial run, to see how challenging it is and how I feel along the way. So far, it seems as though the emphasis has been on things I have to avoid – my sister’s graduation cake and the ice cream truck to name a few. But I’ve realized that with just a few alterations, many of the meals I love can be made vegan friendly. For Sunday dinner I wanted to make something that would be satisfying and indulgent; something that wouldn’t make me feel like I was missing out. These crostini brighten an otherwise unexciting time of the week, with Monday morning looming. A flavourful and recognizable appetizer, they’ll appeal to vegans and meat eaters alike; an environmentally, ethically and health conscious start to your meal. 

Serves 4 as an appetizer

Ingredients:

1 ripe mango

2 tbsp chopped red onion

1 green onion

2 tbsp chopped parsley

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/4 tsp salt

Black pepper

Honey

1 mini baguette or 1/2 a full baguette

Olive oil

1 ripe avocado

Juice of 1 lime

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  2. Peel and cut the mango into small pieces. Place in a medium sized bowl.

DSC00206 2. Wash and finely chop the red onion, green onion and parsley, then add to the bowl as well. DSC00211 3. Stir in the lemon juice, salt, pepper and honey and mix well to combine. DSC00214 4. Meanwhile, slice the baguette and place onto a parchment paper-lined baking tray. Drizzle with oil and bake for 5-10 minutes or until the bread is golden and crunchy. Keep your eye on these!DSC00222 5. In a small bowl, mash the avocado with the juice of 1 lime and a pinch of salt. 
DSC00225 6. Assemble your crostini by generously spreading each toast with avocado and topping with the salsa. Enjoy!!DSC00231 DSC00236 DSC00244

Maple Grilled Veggies

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The joys of summer are here – long warm nights, lazy weekends and a general sense of contentment. But as are new jobs, reunions with friends and a whole new set of activities. Outside of our year’s daily schedule, it can be difficult to establish a routine – a normal dinner routine – in the summer. You want something that’s light, requires minimal appliances (the less heat the better) and can accommodate however many people happen to be around your table that night. These roasted veggies are quick and versatile: add them to salads, pair with grilled meat or put right in a sandwich. With minimal clean up as well, you’ll have more time to enjoy all that summer has to offer. 

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 bunch of asparagus (15-20 pieces)

1 small eggplant

1/2 red onion

1 red pepper

4 tbsp maple syrup

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp sesame oil

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp salt

Black pepper

  1. Preheat BBQ to high heat or around 450 degrees C.
  2. Wash and chop all veggies into small pieces (roughly the same size so they cook evenly). Place in a large bowl.

DSC001923. Add in the syrup, oils, chill powder, salt and pepperDSC00194 4. Toss well to combineDSC00197 DSC00198 5. Place on a BBQ safe sheet or basket and cook, stirring often, until veggies are tender and browned, about 20 minutes. Enjoy!DSC00203

Caramelized Onion Hummus

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Dinner | April 5, 2016 | By

One of my favourite things about coming home over the holidays is having access to a kitchen with appliances again. Opting to spend money on other, seemingly more important things, my kitchen at school has all of a magic bullet and broken immersion blender. This means that making anything requiring a food processor is pretty much out of the question. So I always request soup when I go home and tough it out while at school. But going months without homemade hummus? 

I found that you actually can get a pretty good consistency of hummus without any appliances by using a bit of arm-power and adding some white beans to the recipe, which are softer than chickpeas. Try it out if you’re in an appliance-limited kitchen like me, or dump it all in a food processor for an equally tasty result. 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups chickpeas

1/2 cup white kidney beans 

1 teaspoon butter

1/2 cup white onion

2 tablespoons olive oil 

Juice of one lemon

1 teaspoon salt

2 cloves garlic

1/4 cup fresh cilantro

  1. Rinse and drain chickpeas and white beans into a bowl.Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 4.37.05 PM
  2. Using a potato masher, pastry cutter or the back of a fork, mash the beans together to form a smooth pasteScreen Shot 2016-03-27 at 4.37.27 PM
  3. Meanwhile, heat butter in a sauté pan. Slice the onion and add it to the pan.Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 4.38.16 PM
  4. Cook, for about 10 minutes, until onions are browned and softened.Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 4.38.23 PM
  5. Chop onions and add to the beans, along with the oil, lemon juice and salt. Finely chop the garlic and cilantro and add as well.Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 4.37.59 PM
  6. Mix well and serve with crackers and veggies. Enjoy!Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 11.00.12 AM

Strawberry Chia Jam

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Breakfast | March 23, 2016 | By

Most days, breakfast is surely my happiest time. It’s when I get to totally focus on food before the rest of the day’s stresses form. And as the only early riser of my 4 roommates, it’s about the only quiet time I get. I  justify spending a long time making breakfast to take advantage of this time (and because my to-do list hasn’t crossed my mind yet). But with early classes, I’m often too rushed on weekday mornings to prepare a feast. I like to make or prep something on weekends that’ll make for a week of happy wake-ups. This jam is definitely an upgrade from the store-bought stuff and can use up any shrivelling fruit you have. Whether you’re having it at 6:00am or 10:00am I’m sure it’ll be a bright point in your day as well. 

Ingredients:

2 cups strawberries

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp chia seeds

1. Cut the strawberries into small pieces and place into a saucepan over medium-high heat.Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 1.35.09 PM2. Cook, mashing with the back of a fork, until the fruit softens and breaks down, about 15 minutes

3. Stir in the lemon juice, honey and chia seeds. Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 1.38.20 PM4. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes, allowing the jam to thicken. Transfer to a jar or airtight container Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 1.42.33 PM5. Spread on toast, stir it into oatmeal or eat with a spoon. Enjoy!
Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 1.18.54 PMIf you’d like to see more recipes, check out Spoon University McGill, where I am now a contributing writer!

Where to Find Me…

This Week on The Counter | February 17, 2016 | By

I’d just like to make a quick post letting everyone know that I have recently started writing for a student foodie website, “Spoon University”. More than 100 campuses across the US and Canada are involved and I am a member of the McGill chapter. I will be posting bi-monthly food related articles so if you’re interested in reading them or any others, here are the links!

Spoon University: https://spoonuniversity.com

Spoon University McGill: mcgill.spoonuniversity.com

My first article was published yesterday and is a recipe for sesame citrus salmon and a caramelized orange salad.

As always, thank you for all the support and encouragement along the way! I am looking forward to posting on the countertop again soon as summer (slowly) approaches.

Nathalie