Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Heb 12:1-2 (NLT)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Spicy Corn Cakes with Black Beans

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Serves: 4

These were a fun alternative to rice or potatoes as a side at dinner. They would be good as a breakfast food too! The kids love the corn cakes, but could take or leave the black beans. The only problem now is that I'll have to search out other recipes to use up the cornmeal and buttermilk, which I do not normally have around the kitchen.

What you'll need:

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2/3 C ground yellow cornmeal
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 C buttermilk
  • 1 egg 
  • 1/2 C frozen corn
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • sour cream and salsa for serving
In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together the beans, oregano, and 1 tsp of the chili powder. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are heated through. Set aside. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, remaining 1 tsp of chili powder, a bit of salt and a bit of pepper. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the butter, buttermilk and egg. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry until just blended. It will look lumpy. Fold in the corn. 

Heat a large cast0iron pan over medium-high heat. Brush with oil. Working in batches, add the batter like you would for small pancakes (~ 1/4 C at a time). Use a flipper to keep the batter in a small circle. Cook the cakes, turning once, until brown and puffy (about 4 minutes). Transfer to a plate and cover with foil. Stir the batter and brush the pan with oil in between batches. 

Top the cakes with the beans, and serve with salsa and sour cream.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cinnamon Biscuits

This is a good one. Simple, yet tasty.

What you'll need:
  • 2C sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 C vegetable oil
  • 3/4 C buttermilk 
  • 8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 3/4 C granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
Combine flour, powder, salt and soda in a medium bowl and mix well. Stir in vegetable oil. Add buttermilk and stir until just blended

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Roll dough into a 15x8 rectangle.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Grease a 9 inch round baking pan lightly

Spread butter over the dough. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and mix well. Sprinkle over butter. Roll up rectangle jelly-roll style, starting from one long side. Pinch seam to seal.

Cut the roll into 1 1/2 inch slices. Arrange the slices, cut side up, in prepared baking pan. Bake until lightly browned, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven. Serve hot. 

These are a great little treat, and quick to make. Perfect for brunches. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Raspberry Lemon Muffins

Ease: 4/5     Kid-friendliness: 5/5     Taste: 5/5     Time: 4/5

Prep: 12 minutes
Cooking time: 17 minutes

Back in the summer, I had the luxury of having access to my in-laws raspberry bushes. I picked berries to my heart's delight. I happen to love raspberries, a love shared by my two kids. After two containers of raspberries were put into my freezer I went hunting for new raspberry recipes. This is one that everyone loved. The muffins were so moist and not overly sweet.

What you'll need:

  • 1/2 cup plain low fat yogurt
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 C white sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh raspberries
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl, mix together the yogurt, oil, lemon juice, eggs, and lemon extract. 

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix until just blended. Gently stir in the raspberries. 

Spoon batter evenly into the prepared muffin cups.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick comes out clean, or until the top springs back when lightly touched. Cool muffins in the tin on a wire rack. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com

Monday, September 27, 2010

Simple Spinach Salad

Ease: 5/5     Kid-friendliness: 3/5     Taste: 3.5/5     Time: 5/5

Prep: 7 minutes
Cook time: 1 minute

This is a super fast, super easy, but super tasty spinach salad. Makes a terrific side and I just love the dressing!

What you'll need:

  • 12 oz or 350 g pre-washed baby spinach
  • 2 oranges
  • 1/4 C lowest fat mayonnaise
  • 1/4 C french vanilla yogurt (low fat)
  • 1/4 tsp poppy seeds
  • 1/4 tsp milk (optional)
  • handful of croutons or cranberries (optional)
Rinse spinach leaves under cold water in salad spinner and spin dry. Place in salad bowl. Slice orange wedges and toss into greens. Set aside in fridge.

Combine mayonnaise, yogurt, and poppy seeds in a small bowl in that order. Whisk together (you may want to whisk in a bit of milk if you like your dressing a bit runny). 

Toss a handful of your choice of croutons or cranberries into the spinach, drizzle with the dressing and toss again. Serve! Fresh and Yummy!

Recipe adapted from:

Monday, September 20, 2010

Thai Chicken Pizza

Ease: 4/5     Kid-friendliness: 3/5     Taste: 3.5/5     Time: 4/5

Prep: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 6 minutes

I have to admit, this was a weird one for me. After my first couple of bites, I wasn't sure if I liked it but it was such a unique flavor that I kept taking bites to see, and by the end I was quite enjoying it. It was a bit on the spicy side for my daughter, but I can see it being one of those recipes that as you make it, it grows on you until it's one in regular rotation. A fun twist on pizza anyway!

What you'll need:

  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 boneless chicken breast
  • 1 tsp Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy Seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 3 Tbsp creamy or crunchy peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 12 " pizza crust (I got one of those pre-made ones from the bakery section)
  • 3 green onions
  • 6 mushrooms
  • 1 C mozzarella cheese
  • 1 C washed bean sprouts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat oil in a small nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. 

Cut chicken into small bite sized pieces. Add to pan and sauté until chicken is no longer pink. Sprinkle with spice and set aside. 

Soften peanut butter in a coffee mug in the microwave for ~ 15-25 seconds. Whisk in soy sauce and water (continue adding a bit of water until the sauce becomes slightly runny).

Spread sauce over pizza crust. Top with sauteed chicken. Wash and finely chop green onion. Wash and slice mushrooms. Scatter both green onions and mushrooms over pizza base. Top with cheese. 

Bake for 5 minutes. When timer rings, change oven setting to broil. Watch carefully and remove when cheese begins to bubble. 

Rinse bean sprouts in a colander under cold water. Pat dry. Remove pizza from the oven and sprinkle uncooked bean sprouts over top. 


The recipe is from my current favorite cookbook

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Spaghetti Amatriciana

Ease: 4/5     Kid-friendliness: 4/5     Taste: 4/5     Time: 3.5/6

Prep: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

We eat spaghetti a lot. It's kind of the go-to when we don't know what else to make. So I thought I would look around for alternate (but still relatively easy) spaghetti recipes to "spice" things up once in awhile. Everyone liked this one. The original recipe called for dry white wine. I used a little bit of apple juice instead.

This isn't a traditional amatriciana pasta sauce, because as wikipedia told me, amatriciana pasta sauce is made with dried pork cheek (I doubt my bacon is strictly made from the "cheek") and percorino cheese (never heard of it), but calling it "amatriciana" sounds like a more adult pasta sauce, so I left it in the title.

What you'll need:
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 90 g thick cut bacon, chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 C apple juice (or dry white wine)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2.5 C diced tomatoes, with juice
  • salt
  • 500 g (1 lb) spaghetti
  • 1/2 C parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In a large frying pan over medium-low heat, warm the oil. Add the bacon, onion, and red pepper flakes. Saute until the onion is softened and the bacon is lightly browned (~6 minutes). 

Stir in the apple juice, and tomato paste. Reduce the heat to low and cook about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and 1/2 tsp salt. Raise the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 20 minutes. 

Meanwhile, add 2 Tbsp salt and pasta to the boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente according to package directions (~8 minutes). Drain, reserving ~ 1/2 C of cooking water. 

Add the drained pasta to the sauce and toss to combine. Sprinkle with one-third of the cheese and toss again. Add cooking water until the sauce is a nice consistency. Top with cheese, and serve.

Recipe from Weeknight Cook

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cashew Chicken

Ease: 3/5     Kid-friendliness: 3/5     Taste: 5/5     Time: 3/5

Prep: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 6 minutes

Cutting up chicken into bite sized pieces is probably my least favorite food preparation activity. It is so laborious! But I love a good stir-fry and this one is a new favorite. It's not the greatest for small kids because of the nuts, so I had to make a little bit without nuts for my son, but my daughter liked the nuts. My husband and I (before kids) used to go to a restaurant called Brewster's, mostly because they have an awesome beer sampler tray, but also because they had a really good cashew chicken dish. This recipe reminded me of that. All the meal needed was a cold Brewster's beer.

What you'll need:

  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 500 g skinless boneless chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cornstarch
  • 3 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 C salted roasted cashews
  • streamed rice, for serving
In a large bowl, stir together 2 Tbsp soy sauce, the wine, and the ginger. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Set aside for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine 2 Tbsp water, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and cornstarch and stir to dissolve the sugar and cornstarch. 

Heat a large frying pan (or wok) over high heat and add 2 Tbsp canola oil. Remove and drain the chicken from the marinade, and discard the marinade. Add the chicken to the pan and stir-fry until opaque (~3 minutes). Transfer the chicken to a bowl. Return the pan to medium heat and add 1 Tbsp canola oil. Add the onions and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Return the chicken to the pan and add the cashews. Give the sauce a quick stir, add to the pan, and stir until the sauce thickens slightly (~1-2 minutes). Serve with rice!

And Happy September Everyone! Can't believe we burned through August like that...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Shredded BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

Ease: 4/5      Kid-friendliness: 4/5     Taste: 5/5     Time: 3.5/5

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 to 12 minutes

Everyone loved these! A perfect backyard summer meal. Get your napkins out!

What you'll need:

  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter or margarine 
  • 1/2 C minced yellow onion 
  • 1 C ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
  • 2 good sized boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into halves
  • vegetable oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 - 6 large sandwich rolls
Warm BBQ to medium high heat. 

To make the sauce, in a medium sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter or margarine. Add the onion and cook until soft (~3 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add the ketchup, soy sauce, lemon juice and tabasco sauce. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes. Set aside. 

Lightly brush or spray the chicken on both sides with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over direct medium heat until the meat is firm and no longer pink (~8 to 12 minutes), turning once. Remove from the grill and let rest 3-5 minutes. Shred the chicken, add the the sauce pan and heat through over medium heat. 

Grill the rolls over direct medium heat until lightly toasted, (~ 1 minute). Built each sandich with a roll and some chicken. Very tasty!

Recipe adapted from Weber's Real Grilling

Blog Hop,Canadian,125x125

Monday, August 16, 2010

Grilled Asparagus and Prosciutto Salad

Ease: 4/5     Kid-friendliness: 0/5     Taste: 3/5     Time: 4/5

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook time: 8 minutes

This recipe isn't really kidlet friendly. Unless you have a really sophisticated toddler, most small kids probably don't dig vinaigrette dressing, especially one made from red wine. That said, I enjoyed this salad. It made a nice side to the chicken I made and is something beyond the usual tossed or caesar salad I make.

What you'll need:
  • 625 g asparagus, tough ends removed
  • 7 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped chives
  • 6 C mixed baby greens (I used a bagged mix)
  • 90 g prosciutto, thinly sliced and cut into strips
  • 60 g shredded or shaved parmesan cheese
Preheat a stovetop grill pan over medium-high heat (you could also cook the asparagus over a BBQ). Brush the asparagus with 1 Tbsp of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the asparagus in the pan and cook, turning occasionally, until slightly charred and tender, ~ 8 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the garlic, mustard, vinegar, a dash of salt and a pinch of pepper. Slowly whisk in the remaining 6 Tbsp of oil. Stir in the chives. 

Add the greens and prosciutto (pronounced "pra-shoot-oh" - I looked it up. It's a dry cured ham, by the way) to the vinaigrette and toss gently to coat. Arrange the grilled asparagus on plates and top with the salad. Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Grilled Chicken Panini's in a Hurry

Ease: 5/5     Kid-friendliness: 4/5     Taste: 4/5     Time: 5/5

Prep: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes

Sometimes, I am just at a loss for what to make at lunch time. If I don't have leftovers or sandwich stuff, it can be a real challenge to think of something quick and easy and not just have KD. Again.  Here is a quick, easy one I rely on.

What you'll need:

  • 375 g frozen stir fry veggies
  • 375 g cooked chicken strips or chunks (you can buy packaged ones now)
  • 4 whole wheat paninis
  • 4 large lettuce leaves
  • ranch dressing (or BBQ or pesto sauce)
  • shredded marble cheese
  • sandwich press or grill 
Over medium heat, heat a bit of water in a nonstick pan. Pour in the frozen veggies. Cover with a lid for ~2 minutes to soften the veggies. 

Uncover the pan, add the chicken and saute until the chicken is warmed through, and the veggies are tender (~5 minutes).

Meanwhile, preheat sandwich press or grill. 

Spread ranch dressing on paninis, sprinkle with cheese and top with a lettuce leaf, and some of the veggies and chicken mixture. 

Press the panini until the cheese is melted (~1-2 minutes).


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pita Pizzas

Ease: 5/5     Kid-friendliness: 5/5     Taste: 5/5     Time: 4/5

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

This makes a quick easy lunch for the kids. My daughter loves pizza, making it a great way to slip in some veggies (if I think she might pick them off, I mince them up and mix them into the tomato sauce - shhhh...).

What you'll need:
  • 4 whole wheat pitas
  • 1 C shredded cheese (I used marble)
  • 1/2 C parmesan cheese
  • toppings of choice (I used some orange pepper)
  • 1 C tomato sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

Lightly spray a foil lined baking pan. 

Spread the tomato sauce over one side of the pitas. Add your toppings. Sprinkle liberally with shredded cheese and top with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Bake 10-15 minutes, until cheese is melted. Cut into 4 little slices and serve!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pork Tenderloin and Bacon

Ease: 3.5/5     Kid-friendliness: 4/5     Taste: 5/5     Time: 4/5

Prep: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 8 minutes

I recently discovered tenderloin and think it might very well be my favorite meat right now. It's so, well, tender! And quite lean, too. This recipe was a crowd pleaser. I will definitely be making this one again.

For tips and tricks on selecting and preparing pork, see here.

What you'll need:
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pork tenderloins, about 1 pound each
  • 12 slices thinly sliced bacon, about 3/4 pound
Trim any excess fat and silver skin from the tenderloins (see here to find out how).

Cut the tenderloin into 1 1/2 inch pieces (about the same width as a piece of bacon). Season with salt and pepper.

Wrap a piece of bacon around each piece of pork and secure with a toothpick. The bacon should overlap at the ends by no more than 1 inch.

Grill the pork over direct medium heat until the pork is barely pink in the center and the bacon is fully cooked (~12 - 15 minutes), turning once. If flare-ups occur, move the pork temporarily to indirect medium heat.

For another great tenderloin recipe idea, check out pork and apple pitas. 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tips and Tricks for Grilling Pork

I recently discovered pork tenderloin. I have no idea why it took me so long, but it is quite possibly my most favorite meat to cook and enjoy. You really can't go wrong - it will nearly always come out juicy and tender!

I looked up some tips and tricks when it comes to selecting, preparing, and cooking pork since besides frying bacon and roasting the occasional ham, I previously didn't do much with pork.

What to look for:
  • Meat should be light to redish pink. Avoid anything pale or grayish. 
  • The fat should be creamy white and smooth. 
  • The meat should feel firm to the touch, with a fine, smooth grain. 
  • If the pork is packaged, there should not be much moisture in the package, and what there is should be clear. 
To prepare pork:
  • Remove the sinewy layer on the surface (silver skin) by slipping the tip of a sharp, thin knife under one end of the silver skin. Grab the loosened end with your fingers and slide the knife away just under the skin at a slightly upward angle. 
  • Spareribs and baby back ribs have a thin, tough membrane attached to the bone. Use a blunt tool such as a flathead screwdriver to get under the membrane and remove it so that seasonings and sauces can penetrate. Once under the membrane, slide the tool around under the membrane to loosen it. Using the tool, stretch the membrane up to open up a flap. Using a paper towel, get a good grip and peel the membrane off the ribs (sounds yummy, no?)
  • Pork is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 170 degrees F, however many believe this is overdone (I cook mine to 170 because I'm meat-paranoid), so many cook pork to an internal temperature of 150 to 160 degrees F (when there is still a light shade of pink on the inside).
Tender cuts for grilling include rib chop, loin chop, center-cut chop and tenderloin. 

For a fresh and quick tenderloin recipe, click here.

Reference: Weber's Real Grilling by Jamie Purviance

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fish Fillets in Paper Parcels

Ease: 4/5     Kid-friendliness: 3.5/5     Taste: 4/5     Time: 3/5

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes

As I've mentioned before, I'm fussy when it comes to fish. I'm trying to "teach" myself to appreciate fish for fish, but until then, I like recipes that sort of mask the fish. This one was nice.

My husband said to score this recipe high for taste but low for "bang for your buck". In other words, he had to wait a while for what he felt was a small portion.

For tips and tricks for cooking with fillets, see here.

What you'll need:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 peppers, (I used 1 green, and 1 red), seeded and cut into thin strips
  • 8 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp chopped mint
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 skinless fish fillets (I used sole)
  • 4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
  • 4 sheets of baking parchment or foil (I used parchment)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook the onion, stirring occasionally for 3-5 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and peppers and fry until tender but not browned. Stir in the tomatoes and herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Using a round plate, cut 4 rounds of paper (or foil), each the size to easily wrap a fillet. 

Put a spoonful of the pepper mixture on one half of each piece of paper (or foil) and set a fish fillet on top. Spoon some of the pepper mixture over top of each portion. Scatter the cheese on top.

Fold the paper (or foil) over the fish, and fold the edges over several times to seal. Set the parcels on a baking sheet. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the fish is cooked (for tips on checking the doneness of fish, see here). If you used paper, you can serve the fish in the parcels but remove if you used foil. Ta-da!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Egg Foo Young

Ease: 4/5     Kid-friendliness: 4/5     Taste: 3/5     Time: 4/5

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes

I love eggs. I love their versatility. This dish makes a nice lunch but if you don't care for bean sprouts, then you probably won't like it.

What you'll need:

  • 3/4 C finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 C finely diced celery
  • 1 C fresh bean sprouts, coarsely chopped
  • 6 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 tsp salt
Lightly grease and warm a medium sized pan over medium heat. Make sure the pan is good and warm. 

Combine the above ingredients. 

Fry by 1/4 cup fulls. Keep patties shaped with a pancake turner by pushing the egg back into the patty. When set and brown on one side, turn and brown the other side (~3 minutes). Nice served with hot rice, rice cakes or some raw veggies or fruit. 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Chicken and Spinach Pesto Pasta

Ease: 3/5     Kid-friendliness: 4/5     Taste: 4/5     Ease: 3.5/5

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

I love pine nuts. Love them. And pesto. And my family loves pesto. So I thought I'd try my hand at making some homemade pesto. On the plus side, my husband (my biggest critic), said it tasted better than the jarred stuff (YES!). On the downside, I found it a bit high maintenance. Any recipe that requires me to use a blender, a pot AND a pan, is a lot in my books.

This pesto has a nice mild flavor.

What you'll need:
  • garlic, 1 small clove
  • 2 Tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 1/4 C baby spinach
  • 1/2 C grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 C olive oil 
  • 2 Tbsp butter or margarine
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lb whole wheat rotini noodles (really, any noodle would work)
  • 2 C cooked chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 C feta cheese
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In a blender (or food processor), combine the garlic, pine nuts, spinach, and 1/4 C of the parmesan cheese. Chop. You will have to stop a couple of times to scrape down the edges. With the machine still running, gradually add the oil from the hole or spout in the top. Season with 1/4 tsp salt and a couple of grindings of ground pepper.

Add 1 Tbsp of salt to the boiling water. Add the pasta. Cook, stirring occasionally until al dente, according to package directions (~14 minutes). Drain; reserving ~ 1/2 C of the cooking water. Add the chicken to a large serving bowl.

While the pasta is cooking, over medium-high heat, melt the butter or margarine. Add the chicken and cook, until heated through and no longer pink (~ 5-8 minutes). Add the chicken to the serving bowl along with the pesto, feta cheese and remaining 1/4 C parmesan cheese. Toss, adding as much cooking water as required to make a nice consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve!

Adapted fromWilliams-Sonoma The Weeknight Cook: Fresh and Simple Recipes for Good Food Everyday, chicken and arugula pesto pasta recipe.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Last Minute Veggie Kabobs

Ease: 4/5     Kid-friendliness: 4/5     Taste: 5/5     Time: 4/5

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

I recently returned from two weeks of camping in British Columbia. Got to enjoy some beautiful scenery.

Returned with a realization how much I appreciate the simple things. Things like real plates, clean clothes, a bedroom door, hot water and my kitchen! Of course, I came back with a nice tan but very little food and no energy to get groceries. But I had some onion, a green pepper, and 1 pear left from our trip. I decided to make a quick marinade and put my meagre ingredients on kabobs.

What you'll need:
  • 1/2 C olive oil
  • 1/4 C clubhouse Italiano seasoning
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 green pepper, cut into chunks
  • 1 pear, cut into chunks
  • kabob skewers
If using wooden kabob skewers, soak the skewers in water for 20 minutes. 

Mix the olive oil and Italiano seasoning in medium bowl. 

Toss the vegetable and pear chunks in the marinade and let sit for 20 minutes while the kebob sticks are soaking. 

Preheat BBQ to medium high heat. 

Thread the veggies and pear on to the skewers. Keep any remaining marinade. Lightly oil the grill. Place skewers on the grill and cover. 

Grill, turning occasionally and basting with the reserved marinade, 8 - 10 minutes until tender. 

I had a little leftover chicken breast and threw that on my kabobs too. A quick easy meal!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cuban Beef Picadillo

Ease: 3.5/5     Kid-friendliness: 4/5     Taste: 3.5/5     Ease: 4/5

Prep: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: ~25 minutes

Okay, so I had to google "picadillo". According to Wikipedia, it is a traditional latin-american dish comprised of ground meat, tomatoes, and other ingredients depending on location. And that's exactly what this was. Maybe if we had been served food that tasted like this when we visited Cuba, I'd feel more inclined to return.

Moving on, I was surprised my kids liked it so much. It's not spicy, but it is distinctive.

The raisins were like a nice little "hey there!".

What you'll need:
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp Chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 3/4 C beef broth
  • 2/3 C raisins (or currants)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 C red wine vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • steamed rice, for serving (optional)
In a large deep pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and saute until translucent (3-4 minutes). Add the beef and cook, stirring to break up any clumps, until the meat begins to brown (7-8 minutes). Rinse off excess fat.

Add the garlic, chili powder, and cinnamon, stirring frequently for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, broth, raisins, tomato paste, and vinegar. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, uncovered until thickened into a stew-like consistency (~10-15 minutes). Season with salt and pepper. Serve over rice.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Chicken & Capocollo

Ease: 3/5     Kid-friendliness: 3/5     Taste: 4/5     Time: 5/5

Prep: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 7 minutes

Isn't capocollo a fun word? (According to Wikipedia, capocollo is cured ham from the neck or shoulder of a pig, by the way).

This is a recipe that attempts to jazz up chicken breasts. I have a tentative relationship with chicken. I have a tendency to cook the life out of it leaving me with a dry cardboard-like substance resembling a former chicken breast. During both pregnancies, I developed strong aversions to chicken that has only improved with time. I still get cold-pricklies when handling raw chicken. I thus usually eat chicken in stir-frys or casseroles but find it is so time-consuming to chop it up. So I've been trying recipes that will hopefully add some life to chicken breasts served in this household. Baked parmesan chicken was another good recipe.

What you'll need:
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut in half length-wise (effectively making 8 pieces)
  • salt and pepper
  • Mrs. Dash
  • 3 Tbsp margarine
  • 8 thin slices swiss cheese
  • 8 slices extra-lean capocollo
Preheat the broiler. Season the chicken pieces with salt, pepper and Mrs. Dash.

In a large frying pan, heat the margarine over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until brown (~3 minutes). Turn and cook until opaque (~3 minutes). Transfer chicken to a greased baking sheet. Top each chicken piece with 1 cheese slice and 1 capocollo piece. Cook under the broiler until cheese is melted (~1 minute). Rice and green beans made for nice sides. Serve and enjoy!

This recipe was inspired by the Chicken Saltimbocca recipe found in Williams-Sonoma The Weeknight Cook: Fresh & Simple Recipes for Good Food Everyday

Friday, July 9, 2010

Grilled Steak Sandwiches with Melted Onions

Ease: 3.5/5     Kid-friendliness: 2/5     Taste: 5/5     Time: 2/5

Prep: 10 minutes (1 hour if you count marinating time)
Cook: 45 minutes

Who doesn't love a great steak sandwich every now and then? The onions took a long time to cook, but they were melt-in-your-mouth good! Next time, I would turn the baguettes into garlic bread.

The recipe is from HeartSmart: The Best of HeartSmart Cooking. A little tip from the cookbook: if you grill a whole steak and slice it after, rather than cooking individual ones, it often turns out juicier. You can use diced leftover steak in a salad, stir fry or wrap.

What you'll need:
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp coarse ground pepper
  • 2 lb (1 kg) sirloin steak, 1 1/2 in thick, trimmed of fat
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 whole wheat baguettes (16 in long)
  • 1 bunch of spinach, trimmed
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 C balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, combine sugar, garlic, salt and pepper. Pat steak dry, brush with oil and rub with sugar mixture. Marinate for 1 hour at room temperature or overnight in refrigerator.

Onions: heat 2 Tbsp oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions. Cook for 10 minutes without stirring, until the onions begin to brown. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes. Onions should be very brown. Add sugar and vinegar and cook gently, adding water if necessary until onions are very tender. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Cut each baguette into four pieces and then cut each piece in half horizontally. Top with spinach.

Grill steak until desired completeness (~7 minutes for medium). Lay steak on baguettes and top with onions. Serve on the patio with a cold beverage!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Rice cakes with Raisins

Ease: 5/5     Kid-friendliness: 5/5     Taste: 5/5     Time: 5/5

I am always looking for new ideas when it comes to healthy, tasty but quick and simple snack ideas for my kids. This one fits the bill. Get your child to help put the raisins on.

What you'll need:
  • rice cakes
  • peanut butter
  • raisins
Spread a layer of peanut butter over one side of a rice cake. Top with raisins. Would also taste great with honey and granola spread on it, or nutella and cranberries. Can it get any simpler? 

Monday, July 5, 2010

Baked Potatoes with Apples

Ease:  4/5     Kid-friendliness: 4/5     Taste: 3.5/5     Time: 3.5/5

This dish makes a great side and would be a great accompaniment to pork roast or pork tenderloin. Since both my kids like sweet potatoes, this is an easy option. To save on prep time, you could use a bag and a half of McCain's frozen sweet potatoes.

What you'll need:
  • 1 Tbsp butter or margarine
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 Tbsp apple juice
  • 575 - 700g (1 1/4 - 1 1/2 lbs) sweet potatoes, thickly sliced
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Grease a baking dish. Scatter the onion and apples, and season with salt and pepper. Pour over the apple juice. 

Lay the sweet potato slices over the onion and apples. Cover with foil or a lid. Bake for ~20-25 minutes (until sweet potatoes are soft). Uncover and dot with butter or margarine. Continue baking uncovered, for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are lightly browned. 

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Ham and Split Pea Soup

Ease: 3/5     Kid-friendliness: 4/5     Taste: 4/5     Time: 2/5

Prep: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

As I was endlessly chopping up the vegetables for this soup (which takes extra long these days as I have to chop them extra fine so that my eleven month old can eat them too), I couldn't help thinking that I really don't like making soup. But after I enjoyed this hearty soup's flavor and packed away enough left-overs for lunch plus some for the freezer, I remembered why I do.

This recipe makes a nice thick gravy-like soup that is a little less messy for kids to eat.

What you'll need:
  • 10 C chicken broth
  • 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 C diced red bell pepper
  • 2 large carrots, shredded
  • 1 large celery stalk, thinly sliced, with tops
  • 1 lb dried green split peas, rinsed and drained
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 lb lean thick-sliced smoked ham, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • slat and freshly ground pepper to taste
Place 1 C of the broth in a large soup pot, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. 

Reduce heat to medium and add the onions, garlic, bell pepper, carrot, and celery. Cook uncovered ~15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. 

Gradually stir in the remaining 9 cups of broth. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat just to a gentle simmer, and add the split peas, potatoes, ham and seasonings, stirring to mix. 

Partially cover the pot, and continue to simmer for 1 hour, or until the peas are very soft and the soup is quite thick. Stir often to keep the soup from sticking to the pot (I didn't stir it often enough, and was left with a difficult pot to wash!). 

Remove the pot from the heat. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Stir and serve. Makes 8 servings. 

Adapted from Karen Bellerson's Ham and Split Pea soup recipe in Low Fat, No Fat Cooking 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Meatballs on a stick

Ease: 3/5     Kid-friendliness: 5/5     Taste: 4/5     Time: 3.5/5

Prep: 10 minutes (45 if you chill your meatballs, which I did not do)
Cooking time: 8 minutes


Any recipe with "on a stick"in the title, has got to be good in my books. Especially in the summer. And doesn't meatballs on a stick just spell "festive" to you, on this, my country's birthday? (For my American friends, today celebrates the July 1, 1867 enactment of the British North American Act (today called the Constitution Act, 1867), which united two British colonies and a province of the British Empire into a single country called Canada - our equivalent of the fourth of July). Must be some throw back to a childhood memory of corndogs at a fair or something. Speaking of which, the Calgary Stampede (the self-proclaimed "greatest outdoor show on earth") gets underway July 9th, so really, meatballs on a stick could not be more appropriate. And for no other reason, these meatballs are just plain fun and make a great appetizer.

What you'll need:
  • 3/4 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1/3 C bread crumbs 
  • 3 Tbsp whole milk 
  • 3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard (I didn't have any, so substituted 1 tsp of mustard powder)
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (I just used sea salt - maybe it's the same thing?)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp tabasco sauce
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 C ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt (or sea salt if you're me)
In a medium bowl, combine the meatball ingredients. Using your hands (yay!), gently mix until the ingredients are evenly distributed. 

Wet your hands with cold water and shape the meat into balls, ~1 inch in diameter. Try not to overwork the meat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 45 minutes or until very cold (anyone know why? I didn't do this step since I pick recipes last minute and they cooked fine and tasted great to me). 

To make the sauce, whisk together in a small bowl the sauce ingredients.

Lightly brush or spray the meatballs with oil. Grill over direct high heat until the meat is cooked but not dry (6 to 8 minutes), gently turning occasionally with tongs. Arrange the meatballs on a platter with toothpicks. Serve warm with the sauce. Makes 25 - 30 small meatballs.

Recipe from Weber's Real Grilling: Over 200 Original Recipes

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Beef Tacos

Ease: 3.5/5     Kid-friendliness: 4/5     Taste: 5/5      Time: 2/5

Cooking Time: min 4 hours

My dad had eight brothers and sisters. There are still seven of them; five in Alberta. My Grandma B is alive and kicking as well. When her children began moving out, she required only one thing of them: that they agree to come together at least four times a year to celebrate holidays and birthdays. Dutifully, they have done so. Family members take turns hosting. The host is responsible for the entree, and other family members bring the fixings.  This month was my husband and I's turn. Needless to say, it's a fairly large group that comes together. Cooking for large groups can stress me out a little. Turkey and roasts are the tried and true large group options, but this time around, I wanted to make something summery, and simple.

I landed on the idea of beef tacos. This worked out perfectly, because other than a little prep work, all that was required was throwing the beef into my slow cooker, giving me plenty of time to stress about cleaning the house.

What you'll need:
  • 1 1/2 lbs (680 g) extra lean ground beef
  • 3 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 package Tex Mex seasoning
  • 1 tsp dried whole oregano
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 1/2 C chopped onion
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 12 oz corn 
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp Tex Mex seasoning
  • 1 tsp parsley flakes
  • 1/2 tsp dried whole oregano
  • couple dashes of tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
Mix first 8 ingredients in bowl. Scramble-fry in non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat until browned. Drain. 

Put onion into 3.5 or 5 quart slow cooker. Add peppers, corn and beef mixture. Stir. 

Combine remaining 7 ingredients in bowl. Stir well. Pour over top. Stir. Cover. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. Makes 10 cups. 

To complete the tacos, I served the beef mix with hard and soft taco shells, chopped lettuce, chopped tomatoes, chopped red onion, chopped green onion, salsa, and tex mex cheese. 

It was a great afternoon!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mac n' Cheese

Ease: 3.5/5     Kid-friendliness: 5/5     Taste: 5/5     Time: 3/5

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes

My daughter's favorite foods in life include apple cinnamon cheerios, grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken nuggets, and Kraft Dinner. So on her actual day of birth, I set out to make some homemade mac n' cheese that would rival KD. A lofty quest, I know.

As many of you can attest, the best place to go to get the good, gooey, full-fat recipes is the The Pioneer Woman. She didn't let me down. She's got several mac n' cheese recipes on her site, and they all sounded perfect. I liked It's Not Your Granny's Mac N' Cheese, because it adds some vegetables to the pasta (I am cooking for kids here), and her Macaroni and Cheese recipe because I am partial to baked pasta dishes. So I combined the two. The result? Really really good. Your arteries may not thank-you, but your taste buds will. Cheesy, moist, buttery, sticky...

What you'll need:
  • 4 C macaroni
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 C frozen corn
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • olive oil
  • 1 whole egg, beaten
  • 1/4 C (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 C whole milk
  • 2 heaping tsp dry mustard
  • 1 lb cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp seasoning salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

In a large pot, boil pasta until very firm (I cooked mine for ~6 minutes). Drain and set aside. 

In a large skillet, add olive oil and saute onion, bell pepper, garlic and corn over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Set aside. 

In a small bowl, beat egg. 

In a large pot (really large), melt butter and sprinkle in flour. Whisk together over low heat. Cook for five minutes, whisking constantly. 

Pour in milk, add mustard, and whisk until smooth. Cook for five minutes until thick. Reduce heat. Take 1/4 C of the sauce and slowly pour it into the beaten egg, whisking constantly. Whisk together until smooth. 

Pour egg mixture into sauce, whisking constantly. Stir until smooth. 

Add cheese, and stir to melt. 

Add salt, pepper and seasoning salt. 

Pour in drained, cooked macaroni and stir to combine. 

Pour pasta into a buttered baking dish, and top with extra cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top. Serve and enjoy some serious comfort food!

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