Sunday, October 29, 2006
First use either the flatbread pizza crusts or the refridgerator dough. Pre-cook the dough as the package directs. You can use a thin layer of dijon mustard (about a tbsp) if you want or you can leave it out. The one I made this morning didn't have any dijon. Layer on your toppings such as, back bacon, proscuitto, bacon, ham, pancetta, smoked salmon, breakfast sausage, etc. And add some veggies, onions, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, even spinach. Then drizzle on your eggs. You will need to bake this pizza on a cookie sheet or pizza pan... the eggs will often seep over the edge. Finally pick your cheese. I've used Oka, gruyere, swiss, cheddar, emmenthal. Bake until golden or follow the instructions for your crust.
This morning we had shallots, tomatoes, proscuitto, pancetta, eggs and gruyere. It was delish! And we have leftovers to grab tomorrow morning or for a snack later today.
Last night was the first meeting of our dinner club. It was a nice evening. Very relaxing. And we weren't hungover this morning! I did the main course. I went with a stuffed roast beef, potato galettes, butternut squash ragout and chianti glazed beets.
Overall I was not impressed with my performance. The roast beef was more on the medium side then the rare side. I used my meat themometer but I still went a little too long. The potato galette was good. I made individual ones but I didn't fill up the dishes enough so when they cooked down the dish was only half full in the end. I filled them to the top but I should have gone over. A potato galette is simply some shallots sauteed in olive oil with some fresh chopped thyme tossed with some thinly sliced potatoes. I used my mandoline to make the potato slices. Layer it in a round dish with cheese between each layer. I used parmesan and gruyere. It's that simple! Bake it in the oven for 45 minutes or so until golden. It was my favorite part of the meal.
The butternut squash ragout had mushrooms (I used cremini) and brussel sprouts done in a white wine sauce. It was a weak sauce for such strong tasting veggies. The chianti glaze on the beets also was weak. I should have just oven roasted the beets and butternut squash, tossing them in balsamic vinegar and olive oil then about half way through, added in the brussel sprouts and mushrooms. Oven roasting veggies brings out the sweetness and is simple. Instead I had to try and get complicated and it didn't taste any better... One day I'll learn!
The next dinner club I will be doing the dessert. I don't usually make too much of a fuss about dessert which is why a dinner club is so much fun, you get to focus on your dish since you only have the one. I think I'm going to do a creme brulee. I have the torch and the right dishes. And I'll serve it with some Bailey's. We now have them in the different flavours and they will pair beautifully with a nice creme brulee!
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Mix all of these in a blender, food processor or with an immersion blender (braun stick blender).
2 large cloves of ROASTED garlic (I bring home 3 heads at a time, roast them in a 350 oven for 45 mintues with the tops cut off and then seperate the cloves and freeze them in a ziplock bag, then I have roasted garlic whenever I want it!)
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp white wine vinegar (or balsamic, depends on your taste)
1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp anchovy paste (one tube lasts me a year)
2 tbsp grated parmesan (just throw in a 1 inch cube cut up a bit, the blender or processor will take care of the rest)
1/2 cup fat free plain yogurt
2 tbsp - 1/4 cup of low fat sour cream (if I have it on hand)
If I want to make it southwestern style and give it a little heat then I'll add a few shots of tabassco sauce.
I'll mix this with some mayo to make a sauce to put on salmon (it was serious delicious) and I add a shot of cayenne pepper just to make the heat stand up to the bold taste of the salmon.
I always make this a few hours ahead, if not a whole day ahead, so the flavours can really come together. I keep the leftovers in the fridge for about 5 days.
Monday, October 23, 2006
The last time we were in the US, we bought a box of ziti. They were on sale for $1 each! And there were a bunch of different shapes we never see around here. If you can't find ziti then penne also does beautifully in this dish but any medium shape will work.
This dish is deadly easy, freezes well and doubles up no problem. Just boil your pasta (the whole box or bag unless it's mumbo jumbo size) and drain. In a large bowl mix a large container of light ricotta (or low fat cottage cheese if that's all you can find), about 2 cups of grated mozza and about 1 cup of grated parmesan, romano or asiago. Add a jar of sauce. Mix it all up, stir in the pasta, pour it in a greased 8 x13 inch casserole or lasagna dish and your are ready to bake. I like to sprinkle another 1/2 or so of mozza on top. Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes uncovered until is nice and bubbly. Let sit at least 5 minutes before serving.
You can easily up the veggie content of this meal. I used some leftover broccoli, fennel and yellow pepper. But if you don't have any leftover veggies laying around, try adding a box of defrosted frozen spinach or chopped broccoli.
You can prep this one the night before and just take it out of the fridge, pop it into the oven as soon as you turn it on. While the oven is preheating, the dish is coming up to temperature. You will most likely need to the full 45 minutes because of the time the dish had to warm up before cooking commenced. It's still all good!
Sunday, October 22, 2006
In your crock pot mix the following:
1 cup of medium salsa
1/3 cup of peanut butter
2 tbsp of reduced sodium soya sauce
2 tbsp of honey or brown sugar
2 tbsp of orange juice
1 tbsp of minced ginger (I keep the bottled stuff on hand, much easier)
Toss in 12 chicken thighs and make sure they are coated. Cook on Low for 8 hours or hi for about 4-5 hours. I add in some veggies in the last hour. Tonight I used Cauliflower and peas but you can use diced carrots, snow peas, peppers, bean sprouts. It's a thai dish so think thai veggies. I served mine with rice noodles but you can use rice. You can also sprinkle on some green onions and/or chopped peanuts before serving but I always forget.
This recipe comes from the "Eat, Shrink and Be Merry" cookbook authors. They now run a regular article in Readers Digest with some excellent recipes. All healthy and I've never had one I didn't love. They also have 2 other cookbooks, "Looneyspoons" and "Crazy Plates". Pick any of them up if you see them, they are a must have for any cookbook collection!
1 tbsp oil or nonstick spray
400-500 grams or around 1 lbs of boneless chicken breast or thighs
3 large cloves of garlic, minced (I use the jar stuff, why easier!)
2 large onions, chopped
1 19 oz/540 ml can of stewed tomatoes
2 medium zucchini- sliced
1 red or green pepper, diced
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary (or you can use 1 1/2 tsp of italian seasoning in place of the thyme and rosemary)
1/2 cup of red wine (optional)
Heat a big frying pan over medium high heat with the oil or spray in it.
Brown the chicken then add the onions and garlic and saute for another 3 minutes.
Toss in everything else and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium low.
Let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove lid, add wine and let simmer until the liquid has reduced.
Serve over rice, pasta or even mashed potatoes. This is a variation on a recipe I got off the back of a can of stewed tomatoes. Excellent!
If you buy frozen chicken breasts in bulk, watch that they aren't already seasoned or be aware and don't salt them before cooking. Seasoned means "salted"!
I'd like to make a recommendation for one of my favorite cookbooks. It can be hard to find but keep your eyes out in those second hand bins or discount bins. I had to buy my copy at amazon second hand. My mom has a copy and it is the greatest. Healthy and simple meals. I give it a "10"!! It's published by the people at Prevention and worth the effort to find.
Here is a seriously overlooked meal idea. The stuffed potato. It's low fat, nutritious,inexpensive and quick! I poke some holes in mine with a fork and then toss them in the microwave for 3 minutes per potato. I cook one potato per person. You can prep the stuffing mix while you wait for the potatoes. The stuffing mix is only limited by your imagination. I used broccoli, cheese, a little bacon, garlic and onion powder, sour cream and buttermilk. I also had some fresh chives so I chopped them up and added them in. I scooped out the inside of the potato and mixed it with everything else, scooped it back into the potato then cooked it in the oven for 20 minutes until the top was starting to brown at 375.
Add a salad and this is a great meal. Or use the potato as a side and bake a boneless chicken breast in the same oven as the potatoes!
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
This meal takes about 30 minutes to prepare and another 25 in the oven but the great thing is that you can double the recipe and freeze half of it for another meal! It's originally a weight watchers recipe and is worth 6 points for anyone counting. It's a one dish meal. Everything you need for a balanced meal is in the one dish!
1/2 lb (approximately 230 grams) of pasta. The recipe calls for orzo but I used orzo and tubetti and I have a friend who uses rotini. So it's up to you, whatever you have on hand will do.
6 ounces of ground meat. This is why I doubled the recipe, it's hard to bring home just 6 ounces of meat...Usually its around a pound which is 16 ounces. The recipe calls for lamb which I had so I used it. My friend makes it with beef but you could use chicken or turkey or even pork. Any of them would work here.
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced (I keep the bottled stuff on hand, it's a real time saver)
1/4 cup chopped fennel. Not everyone likes fennel or even knows what it is but this is a great recipe to get to know it but if you would rather use another veggie then I would recommend either 1/2 a package of frozen spinach or 2 cups of fresh spinach. Broccoli would also work well here. But those are just the ones I like, you'll have to come up with your own favorite substitutions.
1 tsp dried mint
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 (14 oz) can of crushed tomatoes
3 tbsp of tomato paste. (I used 3/4 of a small can of tomato paste for a double recipe. You can freeze the rest of the can if you can't find tomato paste in the tube. The tube is so convenient, you can squirt out just the amount you need!)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 ounces light feta cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
Spray an 8 inch square baking dish with nonstick spray and preheat the oven to 350.
Cook Pasta as per directions on box. Drain and put in a large bowl.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Brown and break up the ground meat. Add it to the bowl.
Add the onion, fennel, garlic, mint and oregano to the skillet and cook until the onion is soft, about 4 minutes. Add the tomato, tomato paste and cinnamon and cook until thickened, about 6 minutes.
Add the skillet mixture to the bowl. Toss in the feta and mix it all well. Pour it into the baking dish and sprinkle with the parmesan.
Bake for 25 minutes. Low fat, low sodium and delicious!
Want to take it to another level? Think about changing the herb/cheese/veggie combo to create other flavours. For example, Basil, oregano and thyme with fontina and provolone with zucchini and mushrooms would make a great Italian dish! It's only limited by your imagination.
Here is a great recipe for a cold fall evening. It's super simple, can be modified and totally delicious. I serve it with a salad and the meal is complete. Serves 4
2 slices of bacon (optional)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 large potatoes, finely diced
1 can of clams OR 200g of fish fillets OR 200 g (around 1/2 lb) of seafood - shrimp, scallops, mussels
1/4 tsp liquid smoke (in your regular grocery aisle)
1/2 tsp oil, salt free marg or salt free butter
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 can of fat free evaporated milk or 1 1/2 cups of skim milk with 2 tbsp of corn starch added.
Heat the 1/4 tsp of the oil, margarine or butter in a saucepan over med heat. Add the bacon if using and cook until crisp. Remove the bacon and let it sit on a paper towel while you prepare the rest.
Add remaining oil. margarine or butter, reduce the heat to medium-low and saute the onions, careful not to brown them, just soften them.
Add the potatoes and enough water just to cover them. You can use chicken, veggie or seafood broth if you want but water will work just fine. Simmer the potatoes for 15 minutes.
Add the clams, fish or seafood. Heat until just cooked through, the clams are already cooked so just heat them through, about 2 minutes. The fish or seafood will take about 5 minutes.
Add the milk and cook until thickened if using the cornstarch, otherwise just heat through.
The liquid smoke is a great thing. It adds a great bacon flavour to many dishes without the fat or salt. I've had the same bottle for years, it keeps well in the cupboard.
You can leave the potatoes unpeeled if you like. We sometimes do. I make chowder all the time. It's a real maritime tradition!
Friday, October 13, 2006
Looking for something quick, inexpensive and healthy? I gotcha covered. I used to call this dish bean burger stew but then I realized it really is a quick curry chili. Here is the ingredient list:
1 pound of extra lean ground beef
1 14 oz (398 ml) can of no salt added pinto beans (if you are watching your sodium level)
1 14 oz (398 ml) can of no salt added tomato sauce
1 green pepper chopped
1 onion chopped or 2 tsp of onion powder
2 cloves of minced garlic or 2 tsp of garlic powder
3 tsp curry powder.
3-5 cups of veggies (I used Cauliflower but spinach or peas or a combination would work well)
Spray frying pan with non-stick spray
Heat to medium-high
Saute onions and peppers until soft
add garlic and cook for another minute
add and break up beef, saute for 5 minutes
add in beans, tomato sauce, curry and veggies
simmer until veggies are tender and serve (2 - 10 minutes depending on the veggie you added)
but this can sit on your stove for up to an hour on low if you aren't ready to eat right away.
I did this in less than 30 minutes with nothing prepared before hand, I even had to wash my veggies and I had to cut up fresh cauliflower. Frozen veggies would work really well here.
You could certainly get more creative. If you have authentic Indian spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric, cardamon, etc., you could make your own spice blend, just toast up any whole spices before grinding. And if that were the case, I would use ground lamb. It would stand up well to the intensity of the fresh spice mixture.
Okay, this is just too funny! Are you ready for Halloween?!
Sunday, October 08, 2006
The colours of the leaves always amaze me, year after year. How can anything be so beautiful? For someone who is a “cool” colour tone herself, you wouldn’t think I would love the shades of Fall so much. The burnt umber, the yellow mums, orange pumpkins, the burgundy, red and flame orange of the leaves. Somehow the colours of the summer flowers pale in comparison. It’s warmth everywhere even as you start to see your breath.
And the smells of Fall. Pumpkin spice, vanilla, apple pies… and now that the windows are closed you can light all those scented candles and capture the scent indoors. And speaking of candles, how about those shorter days and longer night? Fall is the time to pull out all those sparkling candleholders and lighting them up. Those red wines that didn’t really go with summer’s warm evenings now sound like a great idea. Soups and stews make a reappearance after summer hibernation. Mmm, beef stew, chili, pea soup, chowders! Wow, I think I just planned the perfect evening. Light the pumpkin spice candles, put some plain tealights in all the holders (they tend to be safest), Get a pot of soup on the stove, open a bottle of good red wine and snuggle in for a romantic evening at home!
Maybe that’s why I like Fall so much… I associate the long dark evenings with romance. Curling up with the one you love (or even just lust after a little) with the twinkle of the candlelight in the background. Slap on some Jazz and it’s perfect. See it’s hard to do that in the heat of summer. Snuggling is less than sexy as you sweat like a rutting pig. And it’s too easy for me to get really drunk on white wine to stay sensible, let alone sexy for long. And all that flesh…it’s all out there. All having to be maintained…. In Fall you don’t have to worry nearly so much because candlelight does wonderful things to cellulite. It glistens in the glow of the flames. And the red wine makes you seem that much sexier without becoming completely stupid, well hopefully. Depends on your drink of choice but you get my drift. And Fall means being cool enough to enjoy Bailey’s Irish Cream again! Now that’s perfect. Life doesn’t get any better than that.
This year it was just myself, Tim and his son so I only cooked a turkey breast half. Now if you've been paying attention you'll remember that I cook low sodium. It's hard to leave salt out of a good turkey dinner. Especially when I find the best way to ensure a turkey is moist is to brine it. This is a crucial technique. You can baste until the cows come home but nothing will give you the moisture that brining does. There are 2 different ways to brine. One is to soak the bird in a water and salt solution for at least 24 hours. I find this difficult because I'm usually wrangling a pretty big bird. So I go for brining method number 2. I rub it in salt and let it sit over night. Then I rinse it off, pat it dry and we're good to go. This year I didn't do it... and the turkey was way too dry.
My nephew told me about an interesting cooking method he heard of, steaming. I've never steamed meat, let alone a whole turkey but it may be the low sodium solution I'm looking for. Like I mentioned, today I only did a half of a turkey breast (it really was enough meat for the three of us and I still have leftovers) and I was tempted to try it but I didn't. I do have some turkey thighs that I might try it with soon. Anyone ever steamed their turkey? I'd love to hear of some real life experiences with it.
The highlight of today's meal was the cornbread stuffing. I love cornbread stuffing so much that we never have bread stuffing anymore. I had some maple corn muffins I had made the week before last in the freezer. But often I just make one or two cornbread mixes up a couple of days before Thanksgiving to allow it to start to dry out. Then I just add some finely chopped onions, summer savory or sage and some melted butter. If I don't put it in the bird, I use some of the turkey drippings and mix it in during the cooking process to get a nicer flavor. It's a nice change from the ordinary.
Is it my imagination or do all my food pics lately look the same?!?!
Even if you just have some leftover steak and onions, great that'll work! Add some cheddar, even throw in some frozen veggies to make it a complete meal and you'll be impressed with the results. Even leftover seafood works (if you aren't too hungover from the night before). Shrimp, scallops or salmon make a fantastic breakfast bake! Spinach works well here or just go with some herbs. I tend to stay away from too much cheese with seafood. It just doesn't need it. But some cream cheese or a flavored soft spreadable cheese mixed in with the eggs adds a nice punch.
You can make these concoctions as either a quiche or scrambled eggs. And you don't have to add everything from the night before. Roasted beets with your steak and eggs may not be for everyone.
This morning I made a Ham and Spinach quiche. Oh, when I say "quiche" I mean an egg pie, there is no shell involved. It saves on fat and calories but if you want to use a frozen one or want to make one, go right ahead. I won't tell you not to!
For this mornings dish I used a slice of diced ham (this is an example of how to incorporate a high sodium food into your diet without having a huge portion but still getting the taste), some frozen spinach (you can get the chopped kind frozen in nuggets from Sobey's, it's really useful when you don't need a whole package), some Jarlsberg and some swiss cheese, a little herb and garlic seasoning and some onion powder mixed in with the eggs. It took me exactly 5 minutes to make this dish. 30 minutes in the oven at 350 and breakfast is ready! And here's the real kicker.... we'll have leftovers for quick breakfasts during the week. How awesome is that?!
I've been there twice so far and both times were divine. They have a full menu of coffee and teas to make your lunchtime experience complete. And they have a nice little wine list to make your dinner a truly grown-up experience, all organic of course. The first time I had the daily special, the Mustafa Melt. It was amazing. Flavors that you would never think of putting together... This chef needs to put out a cookbook! The second time I had a wrap type dish off the menu. Again I was impressed. I took Tim there for dinner for my second visit. He too was quite impressed. And he didn't have to feel guilty about blowing his healthy eating regime. What a treat!
We even had a vegetarian parfait with tofu cream. It was good! And I'm not a big tofu fan. I'm still developing my taste for it. But this dessert was fabulous.
So go to Calactus and have a delicious dinner or lunch. And you won't even have to feel guilty about a great meal out!
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Let's talk about stir fry. Everyone assumes you have to do it Chinese or Asian style but I'm here to tell you that's just not true. I use my wok style pan for all sorts of things. You can use a lot of the same base ingredients but just by changing the seasonings, you can change the flavor. And it doesn't take much.
A good stir fry consists of meat, chicken, fish or tofu, sauteed over medium high heat (if you have a non-stick pan). Add in some onions and garlic, maybe some ginger. Remove and throw in your veggie combo. Add some sauce and/or seasonings, return the meat, chicken, fish or tofu to the pan to combine and you're done!
Okay so think about it, the right combo of meat, chicken, fish or tofu with veggies and the right seasoning and you can go with a totally different flavor! I did a nice Greek version the other night. I used chicken, onions, garlic and some of my homemade Greek salt free seasoning for the first saute. (You can use store bought seasoning but if you are watching your sodium, use it sparingly) I used green and yellow zucchini, tomatoes, broccoli, green pepper and mushrooms. I was going to use spinach and tomatoes and that would have been it but I had some veggies to use up. For the sauce I used yogurt with a squirt of lemon juice, some dried oregano and a good bit of crumbled feta. Voila! We had Greek stir fry and it was awesome. I served it over brown rice because that is what I had on hand but we could have used a pita bread or even potatoes.
So think your favorite flavors and stir fry them. It's a quick method of cooking that is pretty darn healthy!
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
I did make some beautiful Halibut steaks on the weekend. I marinated them just for a couple of hours in olive oil, lemon juice and lemon pepper seasoning and a bit of minced garlic and chopped shallots. I BBQed them about 7 minutes per side over medium heat and they were perfect. What a taste! I forget how much I love Halibut. I served them on grilled zucchini which was tossed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and italian seasoning. Yum!
I also did a Curry Beef Stew. It was a nice alternative to traditional stew even though it had most of the same ingredients.
1 plb of stew meat
1 large onion, cut into chunks
1 turnip, cut into cubes
2 large carrots, diced
low sodium beef broth
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp tumeric
2 cloves of garlic
1 inch piece of ginger minced or 1/2 tbsp of the bottled stuff.
and 2 squeezes of tomato paste (I get it in the tube but you could add a whole small can if you want)
I sauted the meat, onions, garlic and ginger. And then tossed everything in the crock pot and let it simmer all day. Right before serving I stir in 2 cups of yogurt. Make sure it doesn't boil! And I serve the stew on top of mashed sweet potatoes. Easy! And it was good enough for company (which we had)
This week I'm going to start my official recipe review. I've got recipes I've developed over the years and I'm going to start putting them to the test of time. Will they make the grade? Stay tuned! And if you are a meat lover be sure to come back often. I'm working on a quick and simple meat lovers healthy recipe collection!