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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Chicken Piccata

There are many variations on this dish, and how it is best prepared, that even the celebrity chefs can't agree which is the best! While I'd love a Smackdown between Ina Garten and Giada deLaurentiis... solely so I could be a judge and eat all the things... let's just make this mashed up version, and call it good, hey?

The above picture is of MY plate, sans capers. Not because I don't like capers, I do. But I forgot them this time. The husband added his after the fact, and wouldn't let me take a picture of his plate. He's so picky like that. Wants to like, eat his dinner or something and not wait for me to be done happy-snapping. Whatevs.

On this particular day, I served this with Spinach & Parmesan Orzo

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts - sliced in half lengthways, and pounded as thin as you like
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tablespoon water
  • 3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
  • Olive oil
For the sauce
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice 
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup brined capers (rinsed)
  • Sliced lemon, for serving

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F 
  2. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
  3. Mix the flour, salt and pepper in a plate.
  4. In a second plate (or bowl), beat the egg and 1/2 tablespoon of water together. 
  5. On a third plate, add the breadcrumbs. 
  6. Dip each chicken breast first in the flour, then dip in the egg then the bread crumbs.
  7. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium to medium-low heat.
  8. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Put them in the preheated oven, and bake for 5 to 10 minutes while you make the sauce.
  9. Dry the skillet with a dry paper towel. 
  10. Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and then add the lemon juice, wine, stock the reserved lemon halves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. 
  11. Boil over high heat until reduced in half, about 2-3 minutes. 
  12. Off the heat, add the rest of the butter and stir gently. Add the capers.
  13. Discard the lemon halves and serve a piece of chicken on each plate, with the sauce on the side, or poured sparingly over the chicken.

Bring the extra sauce to the table, because it's good!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Spinach & Parmesan Orzo

This is a really easy, quick and yummy side. Mild enough in flavor that it would go with all kinds of main dishes, this was really well received in my house. And in my lunchbag the next day.

It breaks up the "usual" rotation of starchy sides (I love potatoes and rice but need a change!) and looks good too.

It's easy, basically cook your pasta, and while that's going, make a white sauce using olive oil instead of butter, and adding garlic.  Garlic, to me, is like bacon. There are very few dishes that cannot be improved by adding it!

Add in the spinach and cheese, and you might even convince your kids to eat it too.

SPINACH & PARMESAN ORZO

INGREDIENTS:
  • 8oz orzo pasta
  • 1 Tb olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tb flour
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1½ cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Add orzo to a pot of salted, boiling water. 
  2. While orzo cooks, heat olive oil in a saucepan and then cook garlic til fragrant (but don't burn!).
  3. Sprinkle the flour into the pot and combine. 
  4. Whisk in the milk, and continue to cook over low heat until thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Once the orzo is cooked, drain and add to the sauce.
  6. Add the spinach and parmesan, and fold in gently.
  7. Test for seasoning, and serve.





Friday, September 12, 2014

Mini Tortilla Crusted Pizzas

A super simple lunch, that was so fast to assemble and cook! These were a hit with everyone at my house and used things I had on hand.

We liked the ones using the bigger muffin pan, versus the smaller mini muffin pan. I cut them using a biscuit cutter, but you could use a (clean) empty can if need be.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4-5 soft taco sized tortillas (any size will do, but the quantity needed will vary depending on size)
  • 1/2 Cup pasta or pizza sauce, pesto, or alfredo sauce
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • toppings - could include mini pepperoni, ham, pineapple, diced peppers, onions, olives, leftover chicken (great with pesto base), mushrooms, caramelized onions, blue cheese, anchovies, bacon
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Cut out rounds of tortillas, and place them in a lightly greased muffin pan. You don't want them to line the entire pan (they become pie-like), just go up the sides slightly.
  3. Add your sauce, be it pesto or tomato based or alfredo
  4. Add cheese
  5. Add toppings
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes (or until the edges get brown and the cheese bubbles)
  7. Cool slightly and serve to your hungry family


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Asian Crunch Salad


Not even CLOSE to being the best photo of this, and I almost didn't post this because of it. But I've said before, and I'll say it again. I am neither a photographer, or a baker. And since this salad is just so good, you'll forget all about the picture and just thank me for posting. Mmmkay?

I did make the dressing and crunch ahead of time (on the weekend) so that all I had to do to pull this together during the week was cut the avocado, mango, onions and cilantro. Easy enough to do while you wait for your protein to cook (we served this with pork chops)

Let me know if you try and like this!

Source: adapted from Gimme Some Oven

INGREDIENTS:
Salad:

  • 1lb coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)
  • 1 cup shelled and cooked edamame
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1 mango, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1/2 cup thinly-sliced green onions 
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro

Crunch:

  • 2  packages of ramen noodles, crumbled (toss the seasoning packet away)
  • 1/2 cup sliced or roughly chopped almonds

Asian Honey Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (or any cooking oil)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • pinch of salt and black pepper
DIRECTIONS:
Salad:
Combine all ingredients in a bowl

Crunch:
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spread the crumbled ramen noodles and sliced almonds out on a baking sheet, and stir to combine. Bake for about 5 minutes, or until the almonds and noodles are slightly toasted and golden, mixing around during cooking if need be.  Keep a very close eye on it so that it doesn't burn. Remove and set aside

Dressing:
Whisk all ingredients together until combined.

SERVING:
Add ingredients (including the dressing) together in a large bowl, and toss until combined.

NOTE:
If you know you'll have leftovers keep the avocado, half the dressing, and half the crunch OUT and add them as you serve again. The salad will wilt and won't be good the next day otherwise!





Monday, September 8, 2014

"Hamburger" Steaks with Onion Gravy


Apparently, ground beef (mince to the Aussies and Kiwis) is also called "hamburger" in some parts of the US.

Kind of like where in some parts of the US, they call all carbonated beverages "coke" regardless of flavour. Weird. 

Although we all speak the same language, I am often tickled by regional differences and sayings. A lovely friend of mine says "y'all" a lot, and I smile every time. I love her (Hi Leigha!) Leigha has a delicious baby girl called Emma, and an adorable etsy store that y'all should check out (see what I did there?), because who DOESN'T need a crown for their baby girl? 

A recent conversation about "what to make with ground beef" sparked a suggestion of "hamburger steak with gravy". Apparently it's a Southern thing which means my husband is guaranteed to love it. 

Sounds interesting, right? (all: RIGHT!) You want to see a recipe for this, right? (all: RIGHT!)

Well okay. Since you asked and all...I decided to make it, based on the description of "ground beef, made into patties, and served with a gravy" and some basic instructions. so, really, I just took it and ran with it. It's actually pretty similar to something my dad makes, so I'm pleased to be making it here!

I served this with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables

So, Southerners... how'd I do?

STEAK WITH ONIONS AND GRAVY

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1lb ground beef (aka mince/hamburger)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 Cup breadcrumbs
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Seasoned salt/pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbs flour (approximately)
  • Vegetable oil 
Gravy
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 TB flour
  • 2 cup beef stock (or broth)
  • salt/pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:
  1. Mix together the beef, egg, breadcrumbs, seasonings and worcestershire sauce. Add extra breadcrumbs if it needs it to bind well. 
  2. Form patties (you should get 6) and flatten as thin as you'd like (thinner cooks quicker), and dip very lightly in flour.
  3. Heat the oil in a skillet, and cook the patties until browned (not necessarily cooked all the way through). Remove to a plate.
  4. Add the sliced onions to the skillet, and cook until translucent.
  5. Add the flour to the onions, and mix, then blend in the beef broth, scraping the pan to get all the brown bits off the bottom. Cook (stirring) over low-ish heat until thickened.
  6. Test for seasoning, and add salt/pepper if necessary.
  7. Add the patties back to the pan with the gravy, and simmer until cooked through (maybe about 5 -10 minutes, depending on thickness of the patties)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Best Ribs Ever. Like, EVER.

I am SO excited about this recipe. I'm not a griller (or a gorilla, if that ever comes up), but I sure do like some good ribs.

The husband was busy chasing the 2 year old around, so I pulled these ribs out, rubbed em, baked em while regularly pulling them out to "mop" them. I then had the husband throw them on the grill, basting with the sauce made to go with this. 

YOU GUYS.  Seriously - these really were the best ribs I've ever eaten. If you ever see the size of my butt, you'd recognize... I've eaten plenty. 

I was worried that the rub would make them too spicy for me, but instead of adding HEAT they added a gorgeous depth of flavor.

I hid the leftovers. I also got up, and ate HALF the leftovers before anyone else got out of bed. Then, at lunchtime, I split the REST with the husband and toddler. They don't know about my early morning pillage of the fridge. They were asleep. You snooze, you lose!  I'm not even slightly ashamed. 

Not being a rib/grill expert, I turned to the Weber's New Real Grilling book for this. I used and adapted the rub/mop/sauce ingredients, different rib type (the recipe is for baby back ribs), however the cooking method is my own.  You'll need to begin this at least 4 hours before you'd like to eat.

Prepared chili powder refers to a chili powder blend, not straight ground chilis!

INGREDIENTS:
Rub
2 Tablespoons paprika (smoked)
1 1/2 Tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon prepared chili powder
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2tsp course ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 Racks St Louis Style Ribs

Sauce
1 Cup ketchup
2/3 Cup apple juice
1/3 Cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
Tablespoons unsulfured molasses
Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp prepared chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp tsp cumin
1/4 tsp course ground black pepper

Mop
1 Cup apple juice
Tablespoons sauce (from above)
1/4 Cup apple cider vinegar

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Prepare the ribs: Take a dull knife, slide the tip under the membrane on the back of each rack, and loosen it. Take the corner of it and pry off the entire membrane from the back of the ribs.
  2. Mix the rub ingredients together until well blended.  
  3. Rub evenly over the top side of the ribs, and massage into the meat. Set aside in the fridge for an hour or so, or overnight if you want even better flavour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Place the ribs on a foil lined sheet pan, cover with foil and bake for an hour while you make the sauce and mop. 
  5. After an hour, mop the ribs, and continue to mop every 30-45 minutes or so. The ribs should be in the oven about 3 hours.
  6. Remove the ribs from the oven, and baste them with some of the sauce. 
  7. Heat the grill to medium high and cook them for about 10 minutes, basting regularly with the sauce.
  8. Take them off, baste some more and cover with foil. Rest for 30 minutes.

Sauce:
Combine all the sauce ingredients into a saucepan and simmer over a medium heat until thickened, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes. Be careful not to burn - don't leave it unattended. 

Mop:
Combine mop ingredients and use a turkey baster (or something similar) to regularly "mop" the ribs. You could use this kind of thing if you have one!!




Monday, September 1, 2014

Greek Pasta Salad with Chicken


Okay, so for those of you lucky enough to have a Penzey's spices store nearby, or those of you who know how to shop online.... Check Penzey's out at www.penzeys.com. They have amazing spice blends, and have lots that are really unique. They didn't pay me to post this. Perhaps they should. (Hi Penzeys!! Let’s be BFFs! And by BFFs, I mean give me free stuff and/or pay me!!)  

Of course, any greek style seasoning will be fine in this – but I happen to really enjoy the one from Penzeys.

This recipe came from one of their catalogs that was mailed to me... about 6 years ago.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 8oz dry pasta (I used tri-colour fusilli - spirals to the rest of us)
  • 1 cups of broccoli florets
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • ½ cup of chopped olives
  • 1.5 tbs greek seasoning, divided
  • 1 tbs water
  • ¼ cup olive oil, divided
  • 1/8 cup balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup low-fat mayonnaise 1 tsp honey   
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • ½ cup feta cheese 
DIRECTIONS: 
  1. Wash chicken breasts, pat dry. Season with greek seasoning (about ½  tbs for 2 chicken breasts).
  2. Cook the pasta according to package directions, prepare the dressing while pasta cooks. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, throw in the broccoli.
  3. In a large bowl, mix 1tbs greek seasoning and 1 tbs water. Let stand for a few minutes.
  4. Mix in the remaining olive oil, vinegar, mayonnaise, honey and dijon mustard.
  5. Add tomatoes, onions and olives - toss to coat.
  6. When the pasta is done, drain and rinse to cool - shake off excess water and add to dressing and toss again.
  7. Set aside and grill the chicken - five minutes per side or until cooked through.
  8. Remove from pan, set aside to rest, then slice or dice.
  9. Plate the pasta mixture, and add the chicken on top, and serve.



Friday, August 29, 2014

DIY: Brownie Mix

This was made because we were out of boxed mix, and I promised the husband brownies. I knew it couldn't be terribly difficult to make brownies, but I like the convenience of the box (because I'm not much of a baker)

A quick google, a recipe for brownie mix, a test run, a proclamation of "these are better than boxed" and here we are.  

Can be customized (add chocolate chips, rolos, cookie dough) but plain are just fine by me. These took about 5 minutes to throw together (three bags, one to make in the bowl). 

I did use a little water to thin mine out a little, but we have a winner! 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

One Pot: Thirty Minute Jambalaya

The Husband LOVES Jambalaya. Every time we go to a certain restaurant, he always has the same thing. I posted it here, and still make it on special occasions, but because it contains shrimp (an essential ingredient to that dish, apparently), I don't make it often because I can't (won't) eat it.

I also don't make it often because I don't really have the kind of time required. Story of my life...
This I made on a week night - I prep the vegetables and seasonings on the weekend and have it all ready to throw in the pot when I get home at night.

THIRTY MINUTE JAMBALAYA

INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 lb chicken breast, diced
  • 1lb smoked sausage, sliced
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun/Creole Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 cups beef stock (if using brown rice) or 2 1/2 cups beef stock (if using white rice)
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups uncooked white or brown rice
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

 DIRECTIONS:
  1. In a bowl mix together the cayenne, Creole seasoning and onion powder - then add the chicken and sausage and mix until they're coated in seasoning.
  2. Heat the olive oil, then cook the chicken and sausage over medium heat until browned.
  3. Add onion, pepper, celery and garlic and cook until vegetables are just tender.
  4. Add stock, tomatoes, rice, bay leaves, Worcestershire and bring to a boil.
  5. Turn heat to low, cover pot with lid, and cook for 20 minutes (if using white rice) or 45-50 minutes (if using brown rice).
  6. Check near the end of cooking time and if the mixture is dry, add more broth or water.


    Monday, August 25, 2014

    Chicken & Broccoli Stuffed Shells




    A few components to this, but I like to make this ahead on a Sunday, and bake on a Monday night after I get home with the toddler and baby. Dinner can be on the table pretty quickly, with minimal effort from me! That's just how I like it during the week. Leaves me free to go tackle all the other things I need to get done before bedtime - and find the time to relax too.



    These make GREAT leftovers, so be sure to snag a couple of shells (leftover stealth!) before you serve it to ravenous husbands and children so you don't have to make lunch the next day too.

    INGREDIENTS:
    • 21 jumbo pasta shells (about 2/3 of a box)
    • 1 jar (16 ounces) Alfredo sauce (or make your own!)
    • 2 cups chopped broccoli, lightly steamed
    • 2 cups diced cooked chicken
    • I onion, diced and sauteed until transparent
    • 1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
    • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp pepper
    DIRECTIONS:

    1. Boil the pasta shells in plenty of salted water to just cooked (al dente)
    2. Meanwhile, In a large bowl, combine the all other ingredients.
    3. When the pasta is cool enough to handle, spoon them mixture into the shells. 
    4. Place in a greased baking dish, cover and bake at 350° for 25 minutes, then take the cover off and bake for a further 5-10 minutes.


    Friday, August 22, 2014

    Muffin Tin Lunch #4

    I seem to post muffin tin lunches on Friday.
    Good on me?!

    Lol, here's the most recent one. We gave H a deconstructed version of what we ate for dinner the previous night.




    Wednesday, August 20, 2014

    (Spicy) Thai Beef Salad



    It's summer! Season of salads!

    Combining some of my favourite flavours, this is a great one. A little spicy, so maybe not for the kids - unless they like their salad with a kick.

    WARM THAI BEEF SALAD

    • 1 lb new york strip steak or stir fry beef
    Marinade
    • 1⁄4 cup tamari (or soy)
    • 1 tbsp fish sauce  
    • 1⁄4 cup mirin, or lemon or lime juice
    • 1 tbsp ginger, grated
    Salad
    • 2 cups salad greens – include rocket (arugula)and baby spinach
    • 1 english cucumber finely sliced
    • 4 small red thai chillies, finely sliced (optional)  
    • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 1⁄2 cup fresh Vietnamese mint (ordinary mint leaves will work too)
    • 1 cup bean sprouts
    • 6 spring onions, sliced diagonally
    • snow peas
    • 1 cup fresh cilantro or basil leaves
    Dressing
    • 1 tbsp tamari (or soy)
    • 1 tbsp lemon or lime juice
    • 1 tbsp ginger, grated
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1 tbsp honey
    • chilli flakes
    DIRECTIONS:
    1. Marinate steak in tamari, fish sauce, mirin and ginger for at least 2 hours in the fridge.
    2. Drain and discard marinade.
    3. Cook steak on the grill, or in a hot skillet until browned on both sides and cooked to taste.
    4. Cool slightly and slice thinly.
    5. In a large bowl, combine all the salad ingredients.
    6. Whisk together the dressing ingredients (or put them in a jar and shake)
    7. Add beef and dressing to salad and mix well.

    Monday, August 18, 2014

    Penne with Blue Cheese and Arugula

    We had a pile of blue cheese in the fridge. Awful problem to have, I know.... anyway, we bought a Costco sized tub of blue cheese crumbles, and although we have used a ton making Blue Cheese topped Pork Chops, I wanted to get some use out of it in a different way.

    A quick look around some of my favourite blogs and sites, and I found this from Mary Ellen's Cooking CreationsAside from being an awesome cook and owner of a double-barreled first name (which I love), she's a really cool lady, so it was a no-brainer to use one of her recipes. 


    Go check out her blog - but be warned it will make you HUNGRY. Thanks, Mary Ellen!


    This came together VERY fast - if you make the sauce while the pasta boils, you can serve this in 15 minutes.


    PENNE WITH BLUE CHEESE AND ARUGULA


    INGREDIENTS:

    • 1/2 pound penne pasta
    • 4 cups arugula (Aussies/Kiwis - this is rocket)
    • 1 Tbs. butter
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1.5 cups half and half
    • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
    • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
    DIRECTIONS:
    1. Add salt to a big pot of water, and bring to the boil.
    2. Cook pasta , drain, set aside.
    3. Melt butter in a large pan. Add garlic and saute 1-2 minutes.
    4. Add half and half and simmer, then whisk in the blue cheese until it melts and blends in, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
    5. Add pasta and toss.
    6. Add arugula and toss until wilted - taste, and add more salt/pepper if needed.

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    DIY: Cream of Chicken Soup



    While I'm all about convenience and making meals fast, there are a few shortcuts that I prefer not to make - but cutting out all the recipes that involve Cream of Chicken or Cream of Mushroom soup etc would be a shame (because some of them are awesome comfort foods), especially when there is a healthier way to achieve the same result!

    I make double batches of this, and freeze in 1.5 Cup portions - so I have it on hand whenever I need it. 

    Source: Adapted from Stephanie Cooks

    Note: This can be made vegetarian by subbing chicken broth for vegetable broth (do I get an award for stating the obvious, or something?)

    Yields 3 cups of soup (1.5 cups is the equivalent of one can of soup)

    INGREDIENTS
    1 tsp olive oil
    1 small onion, diced very fine
    1 clove of garlic, minced
    1 1/2 cups chicken broth
    1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
    1 1/2 cups milk (divided)
    3/4 cup flour

    DIRECTIONS
    1. In medium-sized saucepan, heat the olive oil and saute the onion and garlic until soft.
    2. Add the together the broth, 1/2 cup of the milk, and the seasonings and bring to the boil.
    3. Whisk together the remaining 1 cup of milk and flour and add while whisking the boiling mixture and continue whisking until mixture boils and thickens.
    4. Cool, and use as directed in your favourite recipe
    IF FREEZING:
    1. Cool, and freeze in 1.5 cup portions (I do this in plastic freezer bags and freeze them flat for easier thawing)

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

    Roasted Beet & Feta Salad


    This rocked. My first foray into cooking my own beets! It was super easy, and I think made the world of difference to the end dish (as opposed to using canned).

    The Food Critic thought it was fabulous, and didn't even douse it in ranch/blue cheese dressing/hot sauce/sweet chilli. That's huge. He douses everything in one or other of those things. Hot sauce is nasty. It makes me sneeze.

    ROASTED BEET & FETA SALAD

    INGREDIENTS:
    • 4-6 small fresh beets, peeled and sliced into 1/4 - 1/3in rounds 
    • 1 tsp olive oil
    • salt and pepper
    • crumbled feta, to taste
    • 5 oz baby arugula 
    • 1/4 c. roasted walnuts, chopped
    • 1/2c. yellow and red cherry tomatoes

    Dressing

    • 3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
    • 1 tsp dijon mustard
    • 1 garlic clove, minced 
    • 1 tsp minced fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
    Large glass of wine. Essential. For sipping while you cook.

    DIRECTIONS:
    1. Preheat oven to 450 and line a small baking dish or baking sheet (with a lip) with heavy foil – this will make cleanup easier!
    2. Place beet rounds into prepared baking pan and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper.
    3. Place in oven and bake until cooked through, about 30 minutes.
    4. Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine white wine vinegar, dijon mustard, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper and whisk to combine - while continually whisking, slowly drizzle in olive oil to combine and emulsify.  
    5. Taste dressing and adjust seasoning to your liking.
    6. When beets are done, remove from oven and place foil in bowl and into fridge to cool. 
    7. In a large bowl, combine the arugula, tomatoes and walnuts. Drizzle the dressing over it and toss.
    8. Once beets are cooled, arrange the salad mix on the platter, put the beets on top, and sprinkle with feta.



    Monday, August 11, 2014

    Baked Southwestern Eggrolls


    I have never made an eggroll (spring rolls to the Aussies/Kiwis). I've made gyoza/potstickers before, with great results, so was excited to try my hand at this.

    Whenever we see southwestern eggrolls on a menu, we always order them. Definitely overdue to make them at home!

    Next time I'll be more careful with how full I stuff them, as a few did burst open. I'm considering a double wrapper method too, to help with that (and be able to stuff lots in them).

    We scarfed these down pretty quick, and dipped them in the Avocado/Cilantro dressing - which was an amazing flavour combination. 

    Source: Adapted only slightly from Emilybites.com

    SOUTHWESTERN EGGROLLS

    INGREDIENTS:
    2 cups frozen corn, thawed
    1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
    2 cups grated cheese (I used cheddar)
    1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
    4 scallions (green onions), chopped

    1/4 cup chopped cilantro
    1 (4 oz) can of green chiles, drained
    1 tsp ground cumin
    ½ tsp chili powder
    1 tsp salt
    ½ tsp black pepper

    24 egg roll wrappers (1 package)

    DIRECTIONS:

    1. Preheat the oven to 425. Lightly mist two baking sheets with olive oil and set aside.
    2. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the egg roll wrappers and stir to thoroughly combine.
    3. Pour some water into a small dish and set aside. On a flat surface, place an egg roll wrapper, corner facing toward you (like a diamond) and put ¼ cup of the mixture from the bowl on the center of the wrapper. 
    4. Spread the mixture in a horizontal line from the left corner to the right corner of the wonton wrapper, leaving ½ inch or so of space on each side. Fold the bottom corner closest to you up over the ingredients and give it a 90 degree roll. Fold the side corners in and tuck them as you give the filled section another 90 degree roll. Dip your finger in the dish or reserved water and lightly wet the edges of the remaining top corner of the wrapper. Finish rolling the filled egg roll over the wet corner so that it adheres. Place wrapped egg roll onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
    5. When all of the egg rolls are wrapped and on the baking sheets, lightly brush the tops with oil. 
    6. Bake for 14-15 minutes, flipping once halfway through, until the wrappers are golden brown. 
    7. Serve with avocado/cilantro "dressing" for dipping.

    The Ultimate (Fighting Champion) Dinner Salad with Avocado/Cilantro Dressing


    OK, sure. This is not a "recipe" for salad. But c'mon - how good does that look? It is the ultimate fighting champion of salads dinner salad! All our friends are there, and you'll leave the table feeling satisfied.

    Add the dressing and you have a really healthy dinner, packed with flavor. The husband said he'd eat this every day for the rest of his life. High praise indeed.

    So, let's talk about the dressing. Is it a dressing? A dip? I don't discriminate. Use it how you like.  I seriously ate wanted to eat this with a spoon. Look at that colour! It's a tiny bit fabulous. Seriously. You need to make it. TODAY.

    We use it on all kinds of salads, not just the one pictured above and as a dip for these Southwestern Eggrolls

    Source: http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com

    AVOCADO/CILANTRO DRESSING

    INGREDIENTS:
    • 2 ripe avocados, peeled and seeded
    • 3 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt 
    • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    • 2 tablespoons chopped green onion
    • 1 small jalapeƱo pepper, chopped and seeds removed
    • Juice of one lime
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
    • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

    DIRECTIONS:
    Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

    Friday, August 8, 2014

    Muffin Tin Lunch #3

    Just another muffin tin lunch - I rummaged in the fridge and pantry to find things for H to eat - he loved this one!


    Wednesday, August 6, 2014

    Bacon, Parmesan & Arugula Potato Salad

    I make this potato salad so much, it's like a signature dish and it's regularly requested.

    It originated from friends in New Zealand (Hi Pies & Boozy!) who brought it to a barbecue once, and I've been obsessed with it ever since. I have no idea how this compares to the original.  I kind of just throw it all together, without measuring... you'll figure out what works best for you.

    It's a really simple potato salad, but when you use the best quality ingredients - it's amaaaaazing.

    The combination of the peppery, spicy arugula (don't sub spinach), the salty bacon, the parmesan.... aaahhh... I'd have eaten this for breakfast if there had been any left.

    Important
    Mayonnaise: I use Best Foods, also called Hellmans. It's just better. They should probably pay me to say that. Hi Best Foods. Contact me. Let's be BFFs.
    Parmesan:   Either shave it fresh yourself, or buy shaved. Pre shredded, bagged parmesan just doesn't give it the same flavour.
    Amounts:   Go ahead and double this and HIDE THE LEFTOVERS (Hi Mark, you sneaky bugger)

    INGREDIENTS:
    3lb new potatoes/fingerling potatoes or yukon gold potatoes
    1lb bacon
    5oz (approximately) arugula
    1/2 cup (approximately) mayonnaise
    Shaved parmesan cheese
    Course ground pepper

    DIRECTIONS:

    Boil the potatoes in salted water until cooked, but not mushy. 

    Meanwhile, cook the bacon until it is crispy, drain on a paper towel.

    Drain the potatoes and rinse them in cold water. Put them in the fridge to hang out until you are ready to serve.

    Right before serving, mix cool potatoes, arugula, mayonnaise, parmesan, bacon and pepper together. Taste, and adjust seasoning and mayo content as needed.

    Monday, August 4, 2014

    One Pot Spiced Chicken with Toasted Couscous

    Sometimes dinner has to happen about 30 minutes after I walk in the door. With a 2.5year old and a 4 (is it 5 now? I forget) month old, and working full time, this can be somewhat of a challenge. 

    Thankfully, this dish can be prepped ahead (chop the onions, mince the garlic, dice the chicken, peel and cut the carrots, dice the apricots and measure the spices out) the night before, and be ready to go when you hit the kitchen after work.

    I'm always looking for dinners that are appealing to the whole family, not just a picky toddler. The toddler declared excitedly "OATMEAL?" when I put this on the table. That being said, he was more interested in playing with his firetruck than eating dinner.

    Good thing it was good for all of us, or it would have been such a waste! There are leftovers, so I'll try him again.... soon. 

    Note: I found Israeli Couscous in Trader Joe's (after a search of my local grocery store only offered the smaller, regular kind)

    This recipe was adapted from Weelicious

    ONE POT SPICED CHICKEN WITH TOASTED COUSCOUS

    INGREDIENTS:
    • 1.5 cups israeli couscous
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 medium onion, diced
    • 3 garlic clove, minced
    • 1lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts – cut into small pieces
    • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch coins
    • 1/2 cup diced dried apricots (I had some leftover from making Cream Cheese & Apricot Scones)
    • 2.5 cups low sodium chicken stock
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley (or 1 teaspoon fresh) for garnish
    DIRECTIONS:
    1. In large skillet, or dutch oven, dry toast the couscous over a medium heat, until golden brown. Keep a close eye on it because it can happen really fast and burn! Remove couscous to a plate.
    2. Heat the oil in the pan. Add the onions and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes, until soft.
    3. Add the couscous back to the pan, along with all the remaining ingredients and stir to combine well.
    4. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10-12 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through, and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
    Serve to your toddler who will refuse it, and eat yogurt for dinner instead



    Wednesday, July 30, 2014

    Chick Pea Salad


    Garbanzo Bean, Chick Pea - I don't mind what you call it, I just call this awesome.
    Simple, good ingredients, some time hanging out in the fridge, and you have a really good (and good for you) side dish.

    I knew the husband would like this a lot, so I did stealth leftovers. ie, I put some aside for myself before I even served it... I'm not ashamed. 

    Hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

    Source: adapted from www.thegardengrazer.com

    CHICK PEA SALAD


    INGREDIENTS:
    • 1/2 english cucumber
    • 2-3 ripe roma tomatoes
    • 1/2 large red bell pepper
    • 1/2 small red onion
    • 15 oz. can chick peas, drained and rinsed

     For the dressing
    • 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 2 tsp. oregano
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp pepper

    DIRECTIONS:
    1. Make the dressing: in a small bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk to combine. Set aside.
    2. Dice the cucumber, onion, bell pepper and tomatoes (removing any excess liquid from tomatoes).
    3. Put vegetables and garbanzo beans in a large bowl.
    4. Add dressing and toss to combine.
    5. Refrigerate for at least an hour to let flavors combine. Some dressing will settle on the bottom, so stir before serving.