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Archive for March, 2012

I first posted this recipe in 2006.  I am now starting to go through my recipes and update them.  During this process I found we hadn’t made this one in awhile and it needed some tweaking.  So I am re-writing the recipe today and making it tonight.

For this dish you can use any type of pasta you like…for us H enjoys the bow tie pasta as she thinks they’re butterflies.   The sauce in this dish is more like a gravy, delish.  Change up your spices to whatever you feel like. Tonight I used garlic powder, coriander seeds, a seafood seasoning mix and old bay.  It was fabulous.

Adapted from Sandi Richard, The Dinner Fix

Chicken & Mushroom Pasta

3 – chicken breasts, boneless/skinless and cut into 1 inch pieces
1-2 tbsp – olive oil
1 tsp – butter
2 small shallots, diced
10-12 brown or white mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp – flour
1/2 tsp – spices (use your favourite, Mrs. Dash, lemon pepper, poultry seasoning, a BBQ blend – experiment!)
1 can – mushroom soup (Healthy Request – no msg)
2/3 cup – chicken broth
1/4 cup – orange juice (we used a little less)
1/2 cup – dry white wine (or chicken broth)
1 1/2 cups – baby carrots, or carrots peeled and chopped into small pieces
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 375 g box Bow Tie Pasta
Parmesan cheese, grated (for on top)

 
Put some olive oil in a sauce pan and heat over med-high. Season chicken with salt & pepper and add to pan. Cook until nicely browned. You may need to saute in batches.  Remove and set aside.

Add a little more oil if needed and your butter. Toss in your shallots. Saute for 1-2 minutes then add your mushrooms. Stir well and cook an additional 2-4 minutes. Sprinkle in your flour and spices mixing well.

Once your mushrooms are starting to brown stir in your chicken stock.  Mix well.  Add in your mushroom soup whisking until smooth. Whisk in orange juice, white wine (if using) and carrots, simmering until carrots are tender.

Cook your pasta in salted water until al dente. Put aside 1/2 cup hot cooking liquid. Drain and put into serving dish. Pour sauce and half of reserved cooking liquid on pasta and toss to combine. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve immediately.  If you want to loosen sauce a little more add the rest of the cooking liquid.  Pour yourself a glass of vino and enjoy.

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Several years ago one of my girlfriends brought me back a jar of jerk marinade from her honey moon trip to Jamaica.  It was hot, spicy and all things good.  The sauce didn’t last long and oddly enough we haven’t taken the time to make our own jerk seasoning sauce….until yesterday.

I had everything in the fridge needed to whip up a marinade and so the plan was set in motion and the marinade prepared.  I ended up keeping 2/8 chicken thighs separate, marinating with olive oil and light seasonings since we did not know what to expect heat (spicy) wise.  I marinated the chicken for about 5 hours.  I only had half a jalapeno left from a previous recipe with a few ribs/seeds intact…so this is what I used. The end result, a flavourful, tasty, mild jerk chicken (hint of heat) that 3 of us loved.  The 4th preferred the chicken without green on it (lol).

Adapted from Everyday Food

Jerk Chicken

1 bunch green onions, trimmed and chopped
3 garlic cloves, rough chop
1 jalapeno chile, chopped (if you like it spicy use the whole thing, seeds & ribs intact, when I made it I only used half and it was mild)
2 tbsp lime juice, fresh squeezed
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp brown sugar
1-2 tsp allspice
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2-3 tbsp water
8 chicken thighs, bone in/skin on

IN a blender combine green onions, garlic, jalapeno, lime juice, olive oil, brown sugar, allspice, thyme, cinnamon, salt, pepper and water. Blend until mixture smooth. Reserve 1/4 cup for grilling.

Place chicken in a ziplock bag. Sprinkle additional salt & pepper on your chicken. Add your marinade squishing your bag to ensure chicken coated well. Close bag and refrigerate/marinate for a minimum 2 hours. Turn bag occasionally.

Remove chicken from marinade and place on a heated & oiled BBQ. Close cover and grill at medium-high heat turning occasionally until chicken is dark brown or blackened if you prefer, about 10 minutes.

Move chicken to cooler part of BBQ and brush with reserved marinade. Cover again and continue to cook chicken another 15 minutes or until juices run clear.

I served it with some yellow potatoes I cubed and slow cooked (30 minutes) in a sauce pan with butter/olive oil, salt/pepper and some fresh veggies.

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I made this tasty and quick little treat last year for St. Paddy’s Day and it went over so well we had to make it again.  It’s easy, quick and fun for the kids to make.

St. Patrick’s Day Oreo Snacks

1 package Oreo Cookies
2 cups white chocolate wafers
Green Food Colouring
Green/white sprinkles

In a microwaveable bowl pour in your chocolate wafers. As each microwave is different microwave your chocolate at 20-30 second increments on medium heat. If the bowl is too hot to handle, your chocolate is too hot. Keep stirring every 20-30 seconds until chocolate is almost melted.  Remove bowl from microwave and stir until remaining chocolate wafer bits are melted.  Try not to get any water in the chocolate or it will seize up.

Once melted add a couple drops of food colouring, stir well to combine Keep adding green drops until you reach your desired level of green, mixing well each time you add drops.

Take your cookies and dip half into the melted chocolate. Then holding the cookie over a bowl or plate drop some sprinkles on top. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Continue until you have used all the cookies. Place cookie sheets in fridge for 10-15 minutes until chocolate has firmed up.

You will most likely have a little melted chocolate left over.  Use it as a dip for bananas, strawberries or pretzels.  Yum!

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I started making this recipe…hmmm…22 years ago, YIKES.  It’s been a while.  I found one I wanted to try while living in my bachelor pad in Vancouver, made it for dinner guests, loved it and then it was published.  My home town put out a recipe booklet and my mom submitted this recipe on my behalf.  The Publishing Date says August 1990. Crazy.

I still make this dish and love it along with the odd modification.  I recommend using a medium-full bodied dry white wine (like a Chardonnay) opposed to a lighter wine. 

Serves 8

Chicken Cordon Bleu 

8 Whole Chicken Breasts, skinned and boned
8 slices Swiss Cheese
8 slices black forest ham (thin)
3 tbsp flour
1 tsp paprika
1/2 cup white wine (more for the chef)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup cream (18%)
Butter
Oil (olive oil or canola)
Salt & Pepper
Wax or Parchment paper
Toothpicks

Spread chicken breasts on wax/parchment paper and pound to flatten evenly (if you don’t have a mallet a rolling pin works). Turn flattened breast to ensure inside is facing up. Layer one piece of the ham, followed by one piece of the cheese.  Roll chicken breasts and secure edges with toothpicks. Set aside.

In a pie plate or dish mix together flour & paprika. Season chicken breasts with salt & pepper and roll in flour mixture.

In a large saucepan over medium high heat add your butter and oil. Place your chicken breasts in the pan – be sure not to crowd pan. You may need to cook the chicken in 2 batches. Turn chicken breasts until evenly browned on all sides. Pour in your wine, let cook off for a couple seconds and then add your chicken stock. Cover, reduce your heat to low, and simmer 20-30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and sauce slightly reduced. Your cheese may melt out into the sauce a little – this makes it yummy. Remove chicken to serving dish, take out toothpicks and cover with foil to keep warm.

In a cup blend cornstarch and cream until smooth. Mix into the sauce in pan. You may need to turn your heat up a bit. Cook, stirring constantly until sauce has thickened slightly.  Pour your sauce over your chicken breasts and serve.

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Back when I was single and living on the coast (Vancouver) I used to follow the Greens Restaurant (in San Fransisco), even bought their cookbook “Field of Greens” by Annie Somerville. It’s a vegetarian cook book with fabulous recipes, tastes and flavours.  I tried out a few back in the day and loved every one of them.  I am ready to get back to some vegetarian cooking and happily still have the cook book for inspiration.  This is one recipe I have made many times and adore.

Adapted from Fields of Greens

Orange & Pecan Scones

1 orange, zested
4 tbsp orange juice, fresh squeezed
1/2 cup dried currants, stems removed
3 cups all-purpose flour
5 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold butter
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp milk
1/3 cup pecan pieces, toasted

Preheat your oven to 400F.

After scanning your currents for stems, plump them in a bowl in the orange juice.

Mix together your dry ingredients.  Cut the butter into small pieces and cut it into the dry mixture using a pastry blender. Do this until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add in your currant/orange juice. Add your orange zest to the buttermilk, give it a quick stir. Add to dry ingredients and mix until moistened. Do not over mix.  If you find batter slightly dry add another tbsp of buttermilk.

Put your dough on a lightly floured counter and form into a round, 1 inch high. Cut like a pizza into approximately 8 wedges.  Place on parchment lined baking sheet ensuring they are about 1 inch apart.  Stack another cookie sheet underneath to keep bottoms of scones from browning too quickly.

Whisk together egg & milk and brush onto the tops of the scones.  Sprinkle with toasted pecans. Bake until lightly browned on top, 15-20 minutes.

Serve warm with butter or jam. Makes 8 scones.

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Today we made Heart Mosaic Crafts. Since I always end up with bits and pieces of leftover construction paper this is a great idea for using some of it up.

Gather up your supplies: scissors, glue, a variety of coloured construction paper and a thicker (more durable) white construction paper for the heart.

Cut out your hearts.  Older kids can do their own.  Cut up leftover bits and pieces of construction paper, any colour you want.  We used green, blue, purple and pink.

Give the kids some glue and let the fun begin. Once they are happy with their masterpiece let the glue dry completely before displaying.

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Making lasagna is easier than you think…do not be intimidated.  Get your ingredients ready and put aside a little time (love) to make the lasagna and you will be so happy you did….there’s nothing like a home made lasagna.  Right now H does not like lasagna but that is ok. I still make it a couple times a year because the rest of us love it. 

I’ve been making this lasagna for so long without a recipe I had to measure out the ingredients so I could blog about it.  And here we go….

Simple Lasagna

1.5lbs ground beef
2 jars of your favourite pasta sauce OR 4 cups of homemade tomato sauce
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced (or more if you love mushrooms)
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp basil
1 container ricotta cheese (500gr)
2 cups or more mozzarella, shredded
1 cup provolone, shredded or slices
1/2 cup parmesan, shredded
1 package oven ready lasagna noodles
salt & pepper
1 head garlic
1-2 cups fresh spinach, washed & chiffanade (chopped)
Hot pepper flakes
Olive Oil
Pam

Use either a 9×11 baking dish or 9×13. Spray with pam.

Preheat your oven to 350F. Slice the top off your garlic and place in either a garlic baker or on a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil and kosher salt. Wrap foil around garlic to seal or place lid on garlic baker and put in oven for approximately 45-50 minutes or until garlic soft.

In a sauce pan over medium high heat add your oil. Drop in your mushrooms and saute until nicely browned.

In a heavy pot add another glug of oil (1 tbsp) and add your diced onions. Once the onions have cooked for a couple minutes add your burger. Cook until burger is browned (fat released from burger will also cook away). Always cook your burger until browned as the browning adds incredible flavour to the meat. Add your sauce, oregano, basil, roasted garlic and season with salt & pepper. Mix well. If your mushrooms are ready toss them in too. If you like hot pepper flakes now is the time to add them (1/2 tsp to start). Let the sauce simmer at least 30 minutes to combine flavours. 

Here is my mini chef H adding the sauce on the noodles.

In a bowl add all of your ricotta cheese. Mix in your fresh spinach, 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella and a dash of salt & pepper. If you do not like spinach substitute parsley.

You are now ready to assemble the lasagna. I start with a ladle of meat sauce on the bottom of your baking dish. Spread it around. Then add a layer of your ready to bake lasagna noodles. Another layer of meat sauce on top of the noodles…you want them to be covered so don’t be stingy here. Then noodles. At this point (I call it mid point) you are ready for your ricotta mixture. Spread it all over the noodles evenly so you have a nice layer of ricotta cheese. And then another layer of noodles. Spread more meat sauce on the noodles. More noodles go down and finally your last layer of meat sauce. If you have leftover meat sauce don’t worry as it can be frozen and used in a pasta dish layer. On top of the last layer of meat sauce spread out your mozzarella. We tend to use alot…even cheddar at this point. Add your provolone and parmesan.

Photo: Lasagna all assembled with slices of provolone on top.

Tent with aluminum foil (allowing air for lasagna to breathe) and bake about 45 minutes. Then take the foil off and continue to bake until cheese is brown and bubbling. Remove from oven and let sit on counter 15-20 minutes to settle. Serve and enjoy.

Photo: Lasagna resting and ready for eating.

Photo: Lasagna plated.

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Last year I hosted one of many mom/daughter playdates. The mom brought carrot cupcakes. Without a doubt these were the best carrot cupcakes I had ever tasted. So I asked for and received the recipe.  Finally 8 months later I am making these delectable cupcakes (but with some changes)!

I do not do well with veggie oils or any oils in general in muffins and baking. I can taste it and sometimes it just doesn’t agree with me.  I started using only canola oil and do what I can to cut back the oil content in recipes.

One surprise in this recipe is the carrot baby food. I’ve never bought carrot baby food and so this was a first. I can’t say exactly what it is that makes this cupcake taste so darn good, but if it’s the baby food then I’m sold. These cupcakes are not too sweet and melt in your mouth.

This recipe was hand written out for me so I do not know the original source for credit.

Best Ever Carrot Cupcakes & Cream Cheese Icing

3 cups all purpose flour
2 3/4 cups white sugar
1 tbsp baking soda
3 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp salt
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup canola oil
1 container snack size motts plain apple sauce (111gr)
2 tsp vanilla
1-2 cups grated carrot
2 jars (4.5oz each) carrot puree baby food
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut

Icing
3 1/2 cups icing sugar
12 oz cream cheese, room temperature (1 block is 8oz, so you need 1 and a half blocks)
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Get your muffin tins ready by spraying with pam or inserting liners.

In a bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Mix well. In separate bowl whisk your eggs, oil, apple sauce and vanilla. Add wet to dry ingredients beating well for about 1 minute. Add in your grated carrots, carrot puree and coconut mixing until just combined. If you find the batter dry add another dollop of apple sauce or tbsp of oil.

Pour batter into prepared muffin tins (only fill about 3/4 full) and bake in oven until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Take pans out of oven and let cupcakes cool in pans 5-10 minutes before transferring to wire rack. Let cool completely.

Mini muffins took about 15 minutes.
Regular size muffins took approximately 23 minutes.

Make the Icing
In a bowl sift icing sugar. In a larger bowl beat together your cream cheese, butter, vanilla and salt until smooth. Add your icing sugar in 1 cup increments beating well after each addition until all the icing sugar is used.

You are now ready to ice your cupcakes.  We made both normal & mini cupcakes for a total of 21 normal size cupcakes and 24 mini cupcakes.  My mini chefs had a great time icing them! You can also make this recipe into a cake using 2 x 8 or 9 inch cake pans and baking 45-50 minutes.

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We love burgers. Having smaller hands I like to be able to hold onto my burger, easily, and it not be so big that it’s all meat.  It’s all about the fixin’s for me.  A couple years back (wow 5 already!) we started a quest to try & test as many different burger recipes as we could in one summer which came to be known as our Bakers Burger Blast. It became so successful it continues on to this day.

On the menu this time is a chipotle infused burger with a Tex Mex flair. Liking all things spicy (even though I pay for it later) I saw the recipe and immediately added it to last weeks weekly meal plan.

If you do not have a BBQ or do not like to BBQ don’t be intimidated.  Remember burgers can be cooked in a grill/fry pan on your stove.  Before we get started I have a quick tip for you.

Tip: 2 tbsp of chipotle makes the burger a wee bit spicy – the kids noticed. But they still ate them. If you prefer less spicy use only 1 tbsp chipotle/adobe sauce instead. Take leftover pureed chipotle in adobe sauce and freeze in 1 tbsp portions. Ice cube trays work great for this. Once frozen place in ziplocks and it’s ready to go the next time you want to use it.

Adapted from Rachael Ray

Tex Mex Style Burgers

1 lb lean ground beef
2 tbsp grated onion or 1 tbsp dried onion flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tbsp pureed chipotle/adobe sauce
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp each salt & pepper

Fixin’s (all optional)
bacon strips (your favourite brand cooked)
monterey jack cheese with spicy peppers
diced tomatoes
pickled jalapeno peppers
banana peppers
diced spanish onion
cilantro, chopped
tortilla chips (any variety)
tex mex style cheese sauce (make your own or by one in a jar)

Your favourite buns (mine are ciabatta)

In a bowl mix together your ground beef, onion, garlic, pureed chipotle in adobe sauce, worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Form into patties and set aside. We usually end up getting 5 sometimes 6 patties from 1lb ground beef.

Cook approximately 5 minutes per side on medium high heat (both on stove and/or BBQ).

Put your grilled burgers on a bun and add your favourite fixin’s. My son and I added the tortilla chips right on the burger…added a nice crunch.

Wouldn’t you know it we got so busy eating the burgers, we forgot to capture a photo! These were so yummy they will be made again soon, so photos next time!

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