Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Cookies and Squares

Now you may be saying - hold the phone! It's Christmas Eve's Eve. What's done is done! - But these treats are super easy and will bring you joy well into the New Year. The first is a Swedish Gingerbread cookie. I have a collection of 40 holiday cookie cutters. Yes, you read that right.... 40. But wait, it gets better, I don't have a rolling pin. I'm not much of a baker and I don't feel the need to buy a tool I'm only going to use once or twice a year. So what do I use to roll out these cookies?! Why an empty wine bottle, what else?! And it works perfectly.

Swedish Pepparkakor
Makes about 8 - 10 dozen


  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  1. Heat molasses in a small saucepan until boiling, let boil for one minute
  2. Add butter and sugar and stir until the butter is melted
  3. Let cool to room temperature then stir in egg
  4. While molasses mixture is cooling, sift together the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.
  5. Mix in molasses mixture to flour mix in bowl
  6. Cover and chill overnight
  7. Roll out a workable chunk of dough on a lightly floured surface. Cut into shapes
  8. Bake at 350 for 5 minutes.
These freeze beautiful! And with such a big batch you can give them as gifts to everyone you visit over the holidays or enjoy them all winter with your afternoon tea, as part of the bedtime milk and cookie routine or even as a nibble with your morning coffee.
This next recipe is an old family favorite. This is my Nana's recipe that she used to make for me. I made them this year in her honour. Miss you Nana!
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Squares
Makes 16 cut from a square baking pan
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 peanut butter (the regular kind, not the healthy 'just nuts' stuff, I tried - it doesn't taste the same at all)
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • Icing sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Beat butter, peanut butter, eggs and brown sugar together until fluffy
  3. Add in the vanilla
  4. Beat in the flour, baking powder and salt until well blended
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips
  6. Bake at 350 for 30 -35 minutes. You may find the middle is a bit soft. I turn down the heat to 340 at 30 minutes and cook for another 8 - 10 minutes. Or you can put the pan on your burner where the heat from the oven escapes after you take it out of the oven.
  7. Once the pan has cooled, sprinkle with icing sugar.
(I need to pick up some icing sugar...)

I'm doing a prime rib roast with Yorkshire puddings, potato parsnip mash and roasted root veggies for Christmas dinner. I'm also doing my lobster lasagna for a special meal over the holidays. Good eats will be had by all!

I wish you all the best of the season and a most wonderful New Year.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Veggie and Pasta al Forno

I made this recipe a while ago and was just eating the frozen leftovers. It's so daggon tasty (and I have the notes from when I made it) that I thought I'd share. It was based on leftover cooked pasta. I always make too much pasta so I freeze what I don't need and then I have it when I want to make a casserole!

This is a great recipe to make before the holidays and have ready to pull out of the freezer on a night you don't feel like cooking or when you have guests over (planned or drop ins!). I got 6 plus servings out of this but some were more lunch size than dinner size. Make double and you'll have a spare dinner ready to go when you need it most.

Veggie and Pasta al Forno
Serves 4 -6


  • 3 cups cooked medium pasta such as penne, fusilli, bowties or wagon wheels

  • 3 cups cooked and chopped veggies. I used broccoli, cauliflower and green onion

  • 4 cups shredded 3 cheese mix. I used swiss, cheddar and mozza (use light were possible!)

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 2 tsp garlic powder

  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup light sour cream

  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs

  • cooking spray.


  1. Preheat oven to 350

  2. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray, use one big dish or individual ones

  3. Mix together the pasta, veggies, cheese, salt, garlic powder and sour cream.

  4. Pour into casserole dish or dishes

  5. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and spray the crumbs with cooking spray

  6. Bake until bubbly, about 30 - 40 minutes.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Holiday Veggie Leftovers

I've been meaning to share some leftover ideas for the veggies from your big holiday meals. There are always lots of ideas of what to do with the leftover meat but what about those veggies?! Well I have 2 ideas for you.

Risotto! Yup, I'm talking about it risotto again. Here's the basic recipe from my"Lets Talk Risotto" post. Leftover veggies, mashed or diced, are a natural to make into a risotto. Just heat them a bit in the microwave before adding them at the end of the cooking time. Make a big pot! Nothing is nicer when folks drop in then being able to offer them lunch or a snack of yummy risotto and it's a nice break from the deluge of turkey or ham sandwiches. I made one Thanksgiving weekend with the leftover can pumpkin I had opened to make pumpkin biscotti. You can use your leftover carrots, turnip, parsnip, squash, brussel sprouts, asparagus.... about the only thing I wouldn't use is potatoes and I already mentioned freezing your mashed potatoes for Shepard's pie later. Everything has a purpose!

Okay, what other use can you make out of those leftover veggies... SOUP! The mashed veggies can be made into a pureed soup while the diced, chunked or whole veggies can make a great broth soup with barley, pasta or rice or creamy soups. Leftover sweet potato, squash or pumpkin makes great pureed soups while leftover carrots, turnip and even potatoes go great in a hearty pea soup. Leftover green veggies like broccoli or asparagus make great creamy soups. (the underlined items are recipes here on this blog, not descriptions of the items!)

And most of these leftovers freeze beautifully! Just be mindful that pasta and barley in soup will continue to absorb liquid so you can end up with a gloppy soup. If you want to freeze those types of soups, freeze the pasta or barley separately.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Leftover Tips - Potatoes and Gravy

We're roundin' the corner to the holiday season. And it's time for a reminder to make good use of those leftovers. I just pulled together a quick Shepherds Pie with some goodies out of my freezer. After the holiday's you'll be grateful for any quick fixes you can scrounge from your freezer.

Multi-step dishes become a lot simpler when you simply defrost some of the steps. Save all your gravy, no matter how little you think you have. Even a small amount will make a good base for more gravy or sauces.

Any mashed root veggies freeze well and you can use them as toppers for casseroles.

For my Shepherd's Pie I used some leftover Chicken and Turkey Gravy. I wanted to empty out some of the leftovers out of my freezer before I start piling in new leftovers from the upcoming holiday meals. Even though I'm using ground beef, these gravies will still work. I added a bit of Worcestershire sauce and the leftover gravy into the pan where I had browned the onions and beef. I heated it until it bubbled and thickened a bit more. I would have mixed some cornstarch with a bit of water if it was too thin but today that wasn't necessary.

I used leftover mashed potatoes, potato scooped out to make double stuffed potatoes and leftover potato parsnip mash for the topping for my pie. Defrost and mix them together. I used a frozen mix of veggies; broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peas and corn for the middle. So the only real work I had at prep time was to dice the onion and brown it with the ground beef.

You could also use any leftover beef bits you have instead of ground. That's how the dish was originally made. Sometimes you get tired of eating the leftovers. That's when it's time to freeze what's left. You can do this pie with beef or even your leftover chicken, turkey or pork. I'm telling you now, come those cold January nights you'll be glad to have these comfort foods to throw together a casserole. And if you cook like I do, you'll have make one to eat now and one to put in the freezer for another night!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Horseradish Dipping Sauce

Last night I had sweet potato fries with my steak. I made a little dip for the fries and it ended up being great with the grilled steak too.

Horseradish Dipping Sauce - Serves 1 -2
  • 2 tbsp mayo
  • 1 tbsp sour cream
  • 1/2 tbsp horseradish
  • 1/2 tbsp ketchup
Mix, adding more horseradish if you want a bigger kick.

This is a nice way to bump up a meal a bit! Yum!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Quick and Easy Harvest Pork Chops with Potato Parsnip Mash

Here is a quick recipe that tastes like fall on your plate! The instructions list for the pork chops looks long but it's quick.

Easy Harvest Pork Chops - Serves 4

  • olive oil and/or butter
  • 4 center loin pork chops
  • 2 apples (I used Gala but whatever tickles your fancy will work), cored and cut each into 8 to 12 wedges.
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  1. Heat oil and/or butter in a skillet that you have a lid for. (I used both olive oil and butter)
  2. Cut slits in each pork chop so you can stuff apple slices inside.
  3. Heat apple slices until golden on both sides. Remove from heat and let cool a bit so you can handle them
  4. Stuff each pork chop with as many apple wedges as you can. Don't worry if they are mushed in tight. You'll use any remaining wedges.
  5. Return the pan to the heat.
  6. Saute the pork chops on both sides until browned.
  7. Add apple juice and sprinkle with rosemary, throw in any remaining apple wedges.
  8. Turn heat down to medium low, cover and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes until the pork chops are cooked through. Check occasionally to ensure the liquid has not completely evaporated. If it has, add more.
  9. Take out the pork chops and cover with foil on a plate and let rest for 5 minutes.
  10. While the pork chops are resting, reduce the juice in the pan if it is not already thickened, by simmering it over medium-low heat.

Serve with the potato parsnip mash and drizzle the pan juice over it all

Potato Parsnip Mash - Serves 4


  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 4 medium parsnip
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tsp dried sage
  • 1/2 tsp each garlic and onion powder.


  1. Peel and dice the potatoes and parsnip.
  2. Put in a saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Cook until tender.
  3. Mash potatoes and parsnip with remaining ingredients.

Salt and Pepper both dishes as necessary.

Sorry there are no pictures but it was so simple I didn't think I'd blog about it until after I ate it. It was super tasty!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Squash Lasagna

Okay before you turn up your nose... it's spaghetti squash in place of noodles. Sort of. I just baked this off in the oven and it's so dagg-on tasty that I had to blog about it straight away (while I try not to eat it all right here and now)! So here goes..

Here's another light, cheap, healthy meal. This one tastes like those heavy italian casseroles that we all love but it's not heavy or hard on the waistline. And I mentioned cheap, right?!

And as per usual, it freezes beautifully.

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna - Serves 8

Ingredients (by layer):

Squash layer:

  • Spaghetti squash, roasted and scooped out
  • 1 tbsp each, fresh basil, oregano and thyme and/or 2 tbsp pesto sauce (use whatever combo you want)
  • salt and pepper

Sauce layer:

  • 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp each garlic powder and onion powder
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and pepper

Cheese layer:

  • 1 500ml tub of 1% cottage cheese
  • 1 cups finely shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded parmesan


  • 1 cup finely shredded part skim mozza
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded parmesan


  1. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, sprinkle the inside with olive oil and place cut side down on a baking sheet coated in olive oil.
  2. Roast the squash in a 375/190 degree oven for about 45 minutes until you can easily poke the skin with a fork. Let cool and then scoop out the strands.
  3. Mix each layer in it's own bowl
  4. Spray your casserole with cooking spray.
  5. Start with a thin layer of squash, followed by a thin layer of sauce and all of the cheese layer mix. Top with the rest of the squash and then the rest of the sauce. Top with the topping layer.
  6. Bake for 25 - 35 minutes and pull out of the oven if you want to freeze it. Otherwise, finish cooking until golden, about 45 minutes total.

Remember, if you want to make a couple of homemade frozen meals out of this recipe, use smaller serving size casseroles. They cool down quicker, freeze quicker, defrost quicker and reheat quicker! Pull them out of the oven before they brown but just as they start to bubble. Cool down completely and freeze.

Both tomato paste and pesto are now readily available in most grocery stores. It's a much easier way to use both. How many times have you had a recipe call for a tbsp or so of tomato paste and only had the small can on hand. What do you do with the rest?! The tubes are so convenient.

Bon appetit!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Curry Squash Soup

Here is a quick, cheap, filling soup to make. Perfect this time of year as the farmers' markets are full of squash. I used acorn and buttercup (not butternut) squash in this soup. Acorn squash has an amazing flavour. Butternut squash has been the darling as of late but try some of the other varieties, you'll be impressed. Oh, and they are cheap!!! If you have a really hard time cutting them in half then it is time for a new knife or a trip to the sharpener. A properly sharp knife will make including squash in your menu less of a fight with the beast of the garden and a heck of a lot safer.

Curry Squash Soup - Serves 4 -6
  • 1 buttercup squash, medium
  • 1 acorn squash, medium
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 tsp each curry powder, cumin and coriander
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cut your squash in half and scoop out the seeds.
  2. Place them cut side down in a 375 degree oven on a cookie sheet rubbed with olive oil.
  3. Roast until soft, about 35 - 40 minutes. You should be able to poke them easily through the skin with a fork
  4. While letting the squash cool a bit, heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
  5. Saute the onions until they are soft, about 3 minutes. Add in the ginger and cook until you can smell the ginger, about 30 seconds or so.
  6. Scoop out the squash and add to the saucepan with the remaining ingredients.
  7. Stir until blended and heat through.
  8. If you want, blend the soup to make it smooth but you'll find it's pretty much a puree already.
Tasty! And this freezes beautifully. I had it as a main meal with a salad and multigrain role. It also makes a filling lunch or an excellent first course in place of a salad for a bigger meal.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Thanksgiving Cocktail

Happy Long Weekend!!

Nothing says "long weekend" more than a cocktail. This is the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend and for the first time in .... wow, I can't even remember.... I'm on my own for the weekend. And I'm really looking forward to it. I have a list of choirs, a possible trip to the look off in the Annapolis Valley with 3 dogs (we'll see how adventurous I get), a full schedule of football - both college and NFL, and for the first time in years I get to do the meal my way! My mother's husband doesn't like it when I mash the turnip and carrots together, my mom doesn't like brussels sprouts and always buys a huge bird and my ex always wanted cornbread stuffing. This year I'm mashing the turnip and carrot together, making regular stuffing and I'm only cooking a turkey breast on the bone!

But first, to kick off the long weekend, a cocktail! This is a Spiced Cran-Apple Martini. And if it doesn't put you in the mood for the holiday then nothing will. It will even make your relatives more tolerable if you drink enough of them. But I don't encourage that! If you can't tolerate your relatives find somewhere else to spend the holiday. Really. It's okay.

Spiced Cran-Apple Martini:
1 oz spiced rum
2 oz cranberry cocktail
1 oz apple juice
diced candied ginger

Add rum, cranberry and apple juice in a martini shaker and mix. Pour into a martini glass and garnish with the diced candied ginger. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Goat Cheese Stuffed Turkey Burgers

It may be fall but there are still some barbecue days left. And nothing prolongs the joys of summer more than burgers! These are very simple but super tasty. And if you make 8 small patties and then assemble them by putting the cheese in the middle of a bottom patty, leaving space around the edge then put the top patty on and pinch the edges. It works really well! See how well the cheese stayed inside the burger.

Goat Cheese Stuffed Turkey Burgers - Serves 4


  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 tsp each finely chopped fresh rosemary and thyme
  • salt and pepper, sprinkle some all over the mix based on your preference
  • 1 tbsp squeeze of fresh lemon
  • 4 1/2 slices of goat cheese, a small log will be more than enough


  1. Mix turkey, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper and lemon.
  2. Form into 8 thin patties
  3. Lay out 4 patties, place goat cheese slice on each, top with remaining patties and pinch sides to close in cheese
  4. Barbecue until cooked through, it's turkey so cook it completely, I did them about 8 - 10 minutes per side.

I served these with some whole wheat buns toasted, a slice of tomato and a slather of mayo. Very simple, super delicious!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bolognese Smacked Full of Veggies

Now is the time of year to get out your crock pots and get some hearty dishes on the go (and into your freezer!) I had a bunch of veggies that I wanted to use up before hitting the farmers' market again this weekend. So what's a girl to do? Bolognese!!

Here's what went into mine:
2 onions
4 ribs of celery, diced
3 medium carrots, diced
1/2 a bulb of fennel, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium zucchini, shredded
1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped fine
4 -5 ounces/140 g beef , diced
8 - 9 ounces/250g pork, diced
2 cans of tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 cup milk
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground porchini mushroom powder (you can use fresh mushrooms if you like)
salt and pepper
I sauteed all the veggies first (yes, I had to fill the pan and saute three times to get it all done)
I dumped them into the crock pot as each pan full was ready. Then I did the same for the meat. Stir in everything else and that's it. I let it simmer on high for 4 hours but you could easily prep this ahead and let it simmer on low all day while your at work. Make lots because it freezes beautifully. All you'll have to do in the future is boil some pasta and dinner is done!
Throw in what ever veggies you have on hand. This is a great way to create a tasty quick dish for future meals. If you have picky eaters, use a food processor or blender to puree cooked or frozen and defrosted veggies to sneak them in.
What a great meal! And now - on to football. Tonight is opening night!!!! ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?!?!?!!? Wheeeeeeeeeee!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Tandoori Beer Can Chicken and Warm Curry Potato Salad

As Summer draws to a close there is still time for some good barbecuing. The great part about these dishes? They can been done indoors as well as outdoors. I beer can chickens and turkeys all year long. It's such a good way to ensure a moist bird. This recipe doesn't even need to be beer canned as I discovered while trying to make it while on vacation on one of those newer low top barbecues. Just put the bird on it's back and pour some of the leftover marinade in the cavity. It steams up quite nicely!

Tandoori Beer Can Chicken - Serves 2 -4 (buy 1 1/2 - 2 lbs per person)

  • 3 - 4 lb chicken
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp sea or kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1/2 tbsp ground ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric
  • 3 cardamon pods
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper ( more if you like it extra spicy)
  • *mix up the spices however you like, most Indian homes have their own special spice blend so feel free to create your own, add whatever spices make you think of Indian food!
  • red food colouring (optional)
  • 1 beer or pop can, half emptied out
  • 1/2 red onion, cut in chunks

  1. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze about 1/4 cup of juice in a glass or plastic bowl, add in salt.
  2. Make some cuts into the meat all over the chicken to allow the marinade to really get in there.
  3. Toss the chicken in the lemon and salt and let sit at least 15 minutes but no longer than an hour.
  4. Rinse the chicken and pat dry
  5. In the lemon juice and salt bowl, remove any of the salt residue left at the bottom, try to leave about 1 tbsp lemon juice, add more if necessary.
  6. Add in everything from garlic to red food colouring from the ingredient list. Mix.
  7. Add in the chicken and make sure the marinade is all over the inside and outside of the bird
  8. Let sit for 6 - 12 hours
  9. Prepare the bbq for indirect grilling or set the oven for 425 degrees
  10. Empty your beer can another 1/4 and add in some of the marinade to bring the can up to 1/2 full
  11. Stuff the chicken with the cut up chunks of red onion and the leftover lemon in both the bottom and the top.
  12. Place the chicken on the beer can and put on the grill. If you aren't beer canning it, put the chicken on it's back and pour some of the marinade into the cavity.
  13. If cooking in the oven, start at 425 and reduce to 350 after the first 15 minutes. This is a little harder to do on a bbq but you should start high and then reduce the temp as it starts to brown. Check it after the first 15 minutes and adjust as necessary
  14. Cook until the legs are loose or the temp reads 180 degrees with a meat thermometer. (about 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 hours for a 3 - 4 lb bird)

Warm Curry Potato Salad


  • 1/2 cup Mayo
  • 1/2 tbsp Madras Curry Powder (or regular curry powder if you can't find Madras)
  • 2 tsp Sugar
  • 2 tbsp White wine vinegar
  • 3 Green Onions, chopped
  • Any Combo of the following -
  • White potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Green beans
  • Peas
  • Cauliflower


  1. Mix up Mayo through green onions, adjust to meet your tastes! ( I never measure)
  2. Boil potatoes, blanche green beans, peas and/or cauliflower.
  3. Mix it all together and enjoy!

You can toss some of the diced leftover chicken into the potato salad for a quick lunch of leftovers. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Eggplant Parmesan on the Barbecue

Here is a great interpretation of a baked classic, redone for the bbq, making use of in season veggies. Fun, quick and pretty daggon nutritious. Got big eaters? Throw on a piece of meat to go with it for a heartier meal.

Grilled Eggplant Parmesan- Serves 4 -6

  • 1 Eggplant, sliced lengthwise into 1/2 inch thick slices
  • 1 Zucchini, sliced lengthwise into 1/2 inch thick slices
  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced into 1/2 inch thick slices
  • Handful of fresh basil and oregano leaves
  • 1/2 cup each, shredded mozzarella and parmesan
  • salt and pepper

(I had some leftover polenta so I baked it in a pan and then grilled it to make another layer. You can buy polenta in the tube, slice it and grill it if you like or you can leave it out. You can also slice up tofu, grill it and add it as another layer to bump up the nutrients and add a layer of creamy goodness!)

  1. Heat your grill to high.
  2. Grill your eggplant and zucchini until tender.
  3. Grill your tomato until heated, about 1 minute per side (too long and you'll have mush!)
  4. Assemble your parmesan but layering eggplant, cheese, herbs, tomato, zucchini and repeat. End with cheese and herbs.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Polenta (and can you really do that with tofu?!)

I just had a thought.... is it wrong to wrap tofu in bacon? I was just thinking about what to have tomorrow and remembered I picked up some bacon on sale "buy one get one free" at the Sobey's. I went for the toilet paper sale but that's another story. I buy it(bacon) on sale and separate it into 2 pieces per package and freeze it. Then I just the right portion for chowders, making fresh bacon bits or even for the occasional breakfast. Don't ask me why wrapping tofu with it came to mind. I think it would freak out some earth muffin vegetarian vibe out there in the universe resulting in some sort of plague against meat. So maybe not.

On another note, I made polenta for the first time. EASY!! And really tasty. I kept it super simple. This is great in place of potatoes, rice, couscous, noodles, etc. And you can change the flavorings to suit your meal or your own taste buds!

Italian Polenta
Serves 4
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 1/3 cup water
  • 3 ounces grated parmesan
  • 5 big leaves of basil, chopped
  • Salt to taste

  1. Put 1 cup water and cornmeal in a bowl and let soak.
  2. Put the rest of the water in a pot and bring to a boil
  3. Add the cornmeal mixture to the boiling water and reduce to low.
  4. Simmer until thickened, it will happen quickly, just a couple of minutes
  5. Stir in the cheese until blended
  6. Stir in the basil
  7. Taste and add salt to taste
  8. Serve!
(I do have some great recipes for the freezer for veggies coming into harvest this time of year. I swear I'll get them up soon...)

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Thai Coconut Curry Seafood Chowder

I'm waiting for the fog to lift around here. It's been hanging around for well over a week now. I can't find the BBQ through the fog.... In the meantime I've been having a little fun with some ethnic foods. I love seafood chowder and this dish was a refreshing variation. The Thai ingredients can be found at larger grocery stores. I used haddock but you can use any white fish and/or shrimp, scallops, mussels... you get the idea. This recipe is so quick and tasty that you'll turn to it again and again~

Thai Coconut Curry Seafood Chowder
Serves 6 - 4 points per serving
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 lb haddock fillets, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup snow peas, sliced
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 4 oz rice noodles
  • 1 tbsp red curry paste
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 1 14 oz can light coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  1. Heat the chicken broth in a sauce pan to a boil over medium high heat
  2. Toss in the fish and veggies
  3. Reduce the heat to medium, simmer for about 3 minutes until the fish is almost cooked through
  4. Add in the noodles
  5. Stir in the curry paste, lemon juice, fish sauce and coconut milk and heat through
  6. Stir in the cilantro and serve.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Greek Fajitas

I forgot to mention to marinate the meat. I use a little olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and fresh or dried mint and oregano. I toss in the red onion and pepper when I remember. Let the meat marinate for a couple of hours or overnight. Definitely a good step.

Glad Midsommardag!! Today is the longest day of the year and is celebrated as "Midsummer" in Sweden. It's one of my favorite times of the year. All employers in Sweden are required by law to allow their employees a minimum of 3 weeks off during the summer and many start their vacation with the Midsommar holiday. What a wonderful country! But I must return to the reality that is Atlantic Canada. Today is wet, windy and gross. I'm trying to focus on the fact that this rain will help my garden grow. I just hope all that wind doesn't break off my young cucumber plants...

As summer gets into full swing I often think of Mediterranean inspired meals. Wraps are fun, simple and convenient for summer dining. Here is a great turn on a Greek wrap but I'm calling mine a fajita because as I was assembling it I thought of how this concept was very similar to a Mexican fajita.

You can use whatever meat and veggie combo you like! This is great for picky kids because they can add what they want.

  • tortillas
  • hummus
  • pork
  • red peppers
  • red onion
  • tomato, diced
  • cucumber, diced
  • feta, diced
  • Greek dressing (I use a creamy Greek feta dressing and mix it with half yogurt)

Use enough of each ingredient for however many people you are serving. Don't worry about having too much, leftovers are great thrown in an omelet the next morning!


  1. Grill the meat, peppers and onion. Slice each.
  2. Serve the tortillas on a plate with all the other ingredients laid out for assembly.
  3. Let everyone make their own!

Don't forget the napkins!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Frozen Tofu and Wrapped White Fish

First let me tell you about my frozen tofu. Last time I bought tofu it was too much for a meal so I froze half of the block. I had read some interesting reviews about frozen tofu. Mostly that the texture changes. I used mine last night. I defrosted it, pressed it under a heavy weight to get the moisture out ( I have discovered this step helps whenever using tofu in stir fries or when sauteing or barbecuing - see my simple tofu recipe) then barbecued it as per simple tofu recipe. Perfect! So freeze away!

I wanted to touch upon a simple, tasty and kid friendly fish recipe. I have talked about wrapping up fish before. Tonight I did it again and realized I hadn't proclaimed the wonder of such a simple act in a while. I'm a huge fish lover so when I meet someone who isn't I always feel a little sad. This simple dish may get the most ardent anti-fish lover eating the healthy stuff!

I had a piece of cod, sprinkled on some parmesan and wrapped it in some prosciutto. 375 for 15 minutes. Perfect. Try any cheese/meat combo on any of the white fish types, sole, haddock, tilapia, etc. My goddess it was good! Next time I might try havarti and ham....

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Stuffed Pork Loin and Twice Baked Potatoes

I made this meal while hobbling around in my ever so sexy moon boot ( walking boot for my broken foot) so it's pretty quick and easy.

First I started with some potatoes. I had new red potatoes hanging around. New potatoes have pretty thin skins so instead of baking these potatoes, scooping out the insides, mixing it with the other ingredients and stuffing it back in the skins, I tossed everything together and baked it in a casserole dish. It worked just as well.

Twice Baked Potatoes
Serves 4

  • 4 small to medium new potatoes
  • 1 cup broccoli
  • 1 cup cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 cup light sour cream
  • 1 cup light cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Chives (optional)

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil
  2. Dice the potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower to roughly the same size, about 1/4 inch
  3. Cook the potatoes in the boiling water until fork tender. If using fresh broccoli and cauliflower, add them to the boiling water for 2 -3 minutes at the end to blanch. (I used frozen and skipped this step)
  4. Mix the potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, red onions, sour cream and 3/4 cup of the cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Pour the mixture into a baking dish, I used a square pan.
  6. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on the top.
  7. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes
  8. Before dishing out, top with chopped chives if using.

I used the leftovers for breakfast, adding to sauteed red peppers and making it into a frittata with a little more cheese. Yum!

Stuffed Pork Loin
Serves 4

  • 1 lb lean pork loin, boneless
  • 3 slices prosciutto
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Onion and garlic powder to sprinkle around the outside.
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • Cooking twine or tooth picks
  • 1/2 cup white wine, apple juice or chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup 10% cream or blend

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Butterfly open the pork for stuffing
  3. Layer the prosciutto inside the pork, top with the herbs, salt and pepper
  4. Roll up the pork and secure with twine or toothpicks
  5. Sprinkle the outside with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder
  6. Heat the oil on high in an oven safe saute skillet if you have one. Otherwise use whatever skillet you have.
  7. Sear all sides of the pork.
  8. Put the pork in the oven, moving it to a sheet pan if your saute skillet isn't oven safe.
  9. Cook for 25 minutes
  10. Remove the pork from the pan and tent with aluminum foil and let sit for 10 minutes
  11. Heat the saute pan over med high heat.
  12. Pour in the white wine and scrap the bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
  13. Let simmer until the liquid is reduced about half.
  14. Stir in the cream.
  15. Serve over the pork.
It sounds more complicated than it really is. And hey, it's barbecue season so if you just want to throw the rolled up pork loin on the 'cue then go for it!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Shrimp Cocktail - A Healthy Snack!

I'm a snacker. I admit it. I plan smaller meals knowing that I'm going to snack between meals. 5 smaller meals throughout the day is considered healthier than 3 big meals. But you have to plan for those snacks otherwise you'll over eat. I like to keep my snacks light. One of my favorites is shrimp cocktail. You can get the shrimp rings for pretty cheap, around $3. I buy the cheap ones for my personal snacking but they also work well for adding shrimp to a seafood chowder! Sometimes you can get the medium sized cooked shrimp in the bags on sale so check your prices and watch for sales. I always keep cooked shrimp in my freezer. I also used to always keep bottled cocktail sauce on hand. One day my friend Granny Tan was here and she was surprised that I didn't make my own. She always makes her own. Well if she can do it then so can I!

Cocktail Sauce

  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • 2 tsp garlic chili sauce (I use the Thai version)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp horseradish

  1. Blend and chill
  2. Adjust the tastes to suit your liking!
Easy, peasy, cheesy and you'll never buy store made again!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Store bought fried rice with a homemade twist

Tonight I had mom here to help out so it seemed wise to have something cooked for dinner since she could cook for me. However, she spent most of the afternoon cleaning out my front flower bed so I thought I should keep it super simple for her. I had some frozen fried rice that I had picked up from the Superstore. I also had some chicken leftover and frozen from a rotisserie chicken I had picked up a couple of weeks ago. There were some fresh snow peas in my fridge that needed to be used up. And finally, I always keep frozen broccoli in the freezer. Dinner was at hand.

We cut up the veggies and chicken into bite sized pieces, stir fried them in canola oil. Tossed in the rice and added a little oyster sauce and rice wine vinegar. Voila! Supper was tasty. The rice package was meant to feed 2 but with all the added veggies, we got 4 servings out of it. Gotta love leftovers!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

No new recipes....

Well once again I'm going to rave about the wonders of the contents of my freezer. You all know I'm a big fan of cooking extra and freezing it. I have a full inventory list of all my freezer items on the outside of my fridge, all the containers inside are labeled and I cross things off as I take them out and add them as I put them in. Now this may sound a little anal to you but guess what?! I broke my foot yesterday and the one saving grace around here is that I have enough meals in my freezer to last until I'm walking straight again. You see you never know when life's going to hand you a curve ball, best to have your glove handy!

Since I can't yet stand around long enough to make a latte, I won't be cooking for a little while. So my apologies for the lack of new recipes. I do have one from last week I must blog about but as for coming up with new ones to share... it's going to be a little while. Mum's coming in for a couple of nights so I may have some complaining about her cooking to do so stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Turkey Mediterranean Burgers

It finally turned warm here! We go straight from wet and chilly to full on summer. And now I need to mow my lawn. Well... the lawn that is left after the dogs have beaten it down since the thaw. sigh... and so it begins.

On the plus side, I've got burgers made up and waiting in the freezer. I made some more of the Korean inspired burgers to serve traditionally with cheddar and ketchup. I also did up some Turkey Burgers Mediterranean style. Oh, except mine were made from ground chicken. I find ground turkey stays with me all evening so I tend to go for ground chicken. The choice is up to you, it will work with either.

Turkey Mediterranean Burgers
Makes 4 Burgers - 5 points each (before the bun)

  • 1 lb ground extra lean ground chicken or turkey
  • 1 cup frozen spinach (I buy the individually frozen chopped spinach or you could use about 1/2 a pack if it comes in a block)
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup light feta cheese
  • 1 tsp lemon rind
  • 2 cloves garlic

  1. Mix all the ingredients and form into 4 patties
  2. Barbecue until cooked through, about 15 minutes
These are great to prepare when you bring the ground meat home from the grocery store. You'll have them in the freezer for whenever you are ready to fire up the 'cue. Enjoy!

Monday, May 18, 2009

'Tis the Season - for Asparagus!!

In June's edition of Chatelaine magazine they feature some fantastic asparagus recipes. I made the asparagus and smoked salmon rolls to rave reviews. I had rice paper rounds on hand from the Asian market but recently I've seen them in the grocery store. They really are fun. I came up with some other things to stuff in these papers, shrimp, noodles, veggies. I look forward to playing with these more in the future. They are really easy! And something you can get the kids involved with. I'll share any future successes with you.

Mom and I came back to my place Friday night after running errands all day. I was in no mood to cook. I wanted something quick and easy. I threw together another recipe from Chatelaine... Panini Style Chicken stuffed with Asparagus. I didn't have any fresh basil so I used a bit of my tube pesto with white cheddar and asparagus. I used my indoor grill since the weather was crap. I served them on a bed of sauteed spinach with a boiled potato tossed in my chive butter. Quick and Friday night worthy!

Here's a tip. If you want to find something on my blog, there is a search box up there on the upper left corner. Type in what you are looking for and hit the "search blog" text and you'll get related posts from this blog! Easy! (I use it all the time to refer to my own recipes. It's easier then finding them in my notes...Mom always complains I never make the same thing twice so I try to refer back to successful recipes for her enjoyment.)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Perfect Beef Burger

Last night I made an Asian inspired dinner on the 'cue. What I discovered was the most perfect beef burger. It was suppose to be a Korean Burger from Cooking Light. I forgot to add the brown sugar. Oops. The remaining flavours really emphasized the beef and we were all in agreement that this was the beef burger for the summer! They may be asian inspired but they'd be good with traditional ketchup and a cheese slice!
I also made this Lime-Cilantro Slaw also from Cooking Light (did I mention a subscription to this mag is a great idea?!?! It's such a good mag!) but I left out the carrots cause those are a hot commodity around here (dog snacks). Very tasty! And super healthy!
Today I'm going to marinate some shark in the marinate for the Thai beef tacos mentioned above in the Lime-Cilantro Slaw recipe. Shark is a great sturdy fish that can stand in for lots of meats or fish. And it'll be great on the barbecue!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Clam Chowder and Biscuits

Last nights meal was inspired by the Food Network and the weather. It started out sunny but never got warm and was cloudy by mid afternoon. Whenever is cool and cloudy in the spring I think "chowder"!

But man can not live by chowder alone. Okay, he can but to balance the meal out I added a caesar salad with my homemade dressing leftover from Mother's day (it gets better as it sits for a day or two!) and chive biscuits.
Yup, I baked. These were easy, inspired by Chef Micheal Smith and tasty; in part due to the substitution of my frozen chive butter in place of plain butter. Note the green yummy bits. I can't believe how much they rose! I think from now on these biscuits will be a requirement for chowder. I grated in my frozen butter like Chef Micheal recommended but next time I'll use my food processor. I had butter everywhere.

I didn't have any potatoes on hand. I know, what kind of part Newfie am I not to have potatoes in the house!? Much to my surprise I didn't have evaporated milk either. Time to improvise. I did have gnocchi which are just little potato dumplings... So I took my basic chowder recipe and threw in the gnocchi in place of the potatoes. I let them simmer while I prepared and baked the biscuits, so about 25 minutes. They gave off a nice bit of starch to thicken the water. Which was really important since I was using plain skim milk. I don't know if you can really see how the soup is thickened but here it is pre milk and clams.

The gnocchi were an interesting substitution. It's wasn't the same chowder but it was a good one, nonetheless. It's always a fun challenge to get inspired to cook something for dinner and then try and create that inspiration out of what you have on hand! Good luck!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Pics from Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day!! Here are my kids. Aren't they cute?! They even got me a card (with some help from my mom...) They watched patiently as I prepped lunch.

Here are some of the wonderful things we had! We started with Caesar salad with my homemade dressing.

Then I made the Asparagus Pasta from yesterday's post
And finished it off with this Berry Crisp courtesy of Cooking Light (great magazine, worth subscribing!)

Notice how everything is half eaten? I didn't think to take pics of a single dish until we were sitting down enjoying it. The Berry crisp was amazing and I'm not a big dessert eater! I used 1/4 strawberries and 3/4 blueberries because that was what I had in the freezer.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Mother's Day Lunch

Here's my plans for tomorrow's meal. Mom's trying to lose some weight so I'm keeping it light and healthy.

Caesar Salad with my Homemade Low Fat Caesar Dressing

Spaghettini with Asparagus

Berry Crisp

I'm using a recipe from a Swedish cookbook for the spaghettini with asparagus. I had to use my swedish-enlish dictionary to translate it! But the pic looked so good I couldn't resist. I have some big asparagus so I'll peel them to remove the tough outer layer. I'm going to cut them into strips to resemble the spaghettini. The recipe also calls for veggie broth but I don't have any on hand so I'm going to blanch the asparagus, then I'll use that water to boil the pasta and then I'll use that same water to contribute to the sauce for the final dish.

Spaghettini with Asparagus
Serves 4

  • 250 g of dry spaghettini
  • 1/2 - 3/4 lb of asparagus
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • shaved parmesan

  1. Bring a pot of water up to boil
  2. Peel the asparagus if the outer skin is tough, cut asparagus in to strips
  3. Blanche the asparagus until just bright green, place in cold water immediately to stop cooking, save water asparagus was boiled in.
  4. Bring water back up to a boil and cook spaghettini according to package instructions, reserve 1 cup of the liquid when draining the pasta
  5. Heat olive oil in a large skillet
  6. Soften onion, then add in garlic and cook one minutes
  7. Toss in the asparagus, lemon juice and the cooked pasta
  8. Add as much of the pasta cooking liquid as you want to get the sauce the consistency you want
  9. Salt and pepper to taste
  10. Serve with shaved parmesan on top
Stay tuned tomorrow for the pics of the end result and my berry crisp recipe!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Don't like the weather? Wait 5 minutes - it'll change.

Truer words were never spoke. Take today for example. We've seen 3 seasons since 9 am. And I know most of you all over the northern hemisphere have been experiencing some funky weather conditions that change drastically from day to day. This can make meal planning a bit tricky. It was foggy when I got up this morning so I planned a stir fry for supper. Then several times throughout the day it got quite sunny which makes me want to barbecue. Then it got drizzly which made me want to make a soup. What's a girl to do?!

I took out a piece of beef for my stir fry and I have a zucchini that needs to be used before it's no longer usable. But now I really want to barbecue. Solution? I'm going to barbecue my beef and the veggies for my stir fry. Tomorrow I'll just cut them up, soak the rice noodles and make up the sauce. I'll heat it and toss it all together for lunch! That leaves me with a nice piece of salmon and some asparagus to barbecue tonight for supper. Nothing gets wasted and I get to take advantage of the great turn in the weather. 'Cause goddess only knows what tomorrow's weather will bring! Got to enjoy it while it's here!

A little tip about defrosting. I decided to make salmon at the last minute. Since I hadn't taken it out ahead of time I needed to defrost it before it hit the grill. I find most microwaves that possess a defrost function end up cooking part of the meat/fish when using 'defrost'. I use a low heat, 3 or 30% to 4 or 40% of the heat and just do about 45 seconds at a time for fish, 1 minute at a time for meat, check and do for another 45 sec/1min until defrosted. And you don't need to have it defrosted all the way to the centre. If you leave it a little frozen in the centre then you run less a risk of cooking the bejezuz out of it. I usually aim for about 75% defrosted.

Happy Barbecuing and here's wishing you less schizophrenic weather ahead.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Leftover Chicken and Some Tex Mex Inspired Recipes

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Coincidentally - these recipes are perfect for your Cinco de Mayo celebration! No, really, I planned it that way. Honest....

Friday while grocery shopping I noticed they had those rotisserie chickens on sale so I picked one up. It reminded me of all the great leftover possibilities and I'm going to share 2 of those with you. You don't have to buy a cooked chicken. These recipes are great for beer can chicken leftovers or rotisserie chicken from your own bbq. You can even just put on extra chicken pieces when roasting, grilling or baking chicken. The actual type of piece don't matter either, breast, thigh, leg; they'll all do in these recipes!

This first recipe is about as easy as they come.
Chicken Quesadillas
  • 1 tortilla per person
  • salsa
  • chicken
  • green or red onion (or a scallion)
  • cheddar cheese
  • sour cream or ranch dressing (the ranch dressing was a nice twist!)

  1. Preheat an oven or toaster oven to 350 degrees
  2. Put tortilla on a baking sheet
  3. Cover the tortilla with salsa, chicken, onion, and cheddar cheese
  4. Cover with either another tortilla or fold the tortilla in half if only making one.
  5. Bake until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes
  6. Top with sour cream or ranch dressing
Bueno Comiendo!

This recipe isn't that much harder either and is pretty damn tasty! I sorta surprised myself a little.

Southwest Chicken and Corn Chowder
Serves 4 -6

  1. 1/4 cup butter (yes I know it's a lot but you'll see, it's the only naughty bit in this recipe)
  2. 1 onion, chopped
  3. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1/4 cup flour
  5. 2 cups fat free chicken broth
  6. 2 cups fat free milk
  7. 1.5 roasted red peppers (make your own if you want!)
  8. 2 cups roasted corn (I roast corn on the cob when it's in season and freeze it but you can just use store bought frozen corn)
  9. 2 cups diced cooked chicken
  10. 2 tsp cumin
  11. 1 tsp chili powder
  12. salt and pepper to taste
  13. 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional. Yup, optional! The taste is awesome without it but it does add a nice flavour)
  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat
  2. Soften the onion in the butter, add the garlic and cook 1 minutes
  3. Sprinkle in flour and whisk for 1 minutes
  4. Pour in the water and milk continuing to whisk.
  5. Keep whisking until liquid comes to a boil and thickens
  6. Add in the corn, chicken, red pepper, cumin and chili powder. Let heat for 2 -3 minutes
  7. Taste, adjust seasonings and add salt and pepper as necessary
  8. Toss in the cilantro if using and serve

I also had some leftover roasted potatoes. Never one to waste things, I threw them in. If you want to make this soup more substantial you could add leftover roasted or boiled potatoes like I did or you could throw in some leftover rice or pasta. They'll all work!

You could also make this recipe with shrimp or a vegetarian version with black beans in place of the chicken.

I think I'll go open a Corona... Salud!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Pasta al Forno (Baked Orecchiette with Homemade Tomato Sauce and Cheese)

Today we're going to play with some Orecchiette, which means 'little ears'.

Note the little ridges in the pasta. They will help hold the sauce.

This is a great pasta recipe that is kid friendly and can be as cheap or as expensive as you want. While the pasta is boiling we're going to make a quick homemade sauce that may turn you off from ever buying store made sauce again! (but if you want to cheat and buy a jar of sauce, it's okay, I won't tell)


If you don't have orecchiette, any smallish pasta will do. You can even use elbow macaroni if you want. You can bump this up a notch and use organic pasta or whole wheat pasta. This dish is often served as the pasta course for big gatherings in Italy. If you want to start with antipasto (meats and cheeses), then a salad, then a pasta course, then a meat course.... well you get the idea. Honestly? I just had this pasta dish for a meal. Plenty of food!

Baked Orechiette with Homemade Tomato Sauce - Serves 4 - 6

6 Points per serving for 6 servings.
This ingredients and instructions in italics are for the homemade pasta sauce. You can skip these if you are using a bottle or premade sauce.


  • 250 g dry Orechiette (about 3 cups)
  • Tomato sauce ( or you can use about 2 cups of bottled sauce)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 3 tsp of dried oregano
  • 28oz/796 ml can of whole tomatoes, chopped tomatoes or tomato sauce with no added salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn or 1 tbsp dried (dried is best with fussy eaters!)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Splash of red wine vinegar
  • 130g shredded mozzarella or about half of a ball of cheese.
  • another 1/4 cup of grated parmesan.


  1. Preheat oven to 400 F
  2. Cook the orechiette according to the package directions
  3. Tomato Sauce:
  4. While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a sauce pan
  5. Soften the onions and add the garlic. Cook for one minute
  6. Add in the tomatoes and dried herbs. Let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes
  7. Toss in the 1/4 cup of parmesan and the fresh basil if using
  8. Splash in about a tbsp of red wine vinegar
  9. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Add more salt, pepper and/or vinegar until you get the taste you want.

  10. Toss half the sauce with the drained pasta

  11. Put half the pasta in a baking dish, top with half of the remaining sauce, mozza and parmesan cheese.

  12. Put the rest of the pasta on top, finish off with the remaining sauce and cheese. You can make it ahead up to this point and freeze or refridgerate.
  13. Bake at 400F for 15 minutes until crispy on top, golden and bubbling. (or if reheating, be sure the dish is completely defrosted and let sit at room tempeture for at least 30 minutes)

You can use whatever mozzarella you want however I recommended using the ball shaped mozzarella, also called stretched mozzarella and it's usually part skimmed so it's a little lighter in fat:

You can find these in the fresh pasta/italian cheese section of your grocery store. If you really want to punch it up, use the fresh mozzarella.

Make a big batch because this freezes beautifully.

(Sorry, had to wipe the drool from my chin...)

You can bump up the veggie content by blending in some pureed carrots, broccoli, cauliflower or spinach to sneak some in for the picky kids. Or just mix them in for the less fussy!

Nutrition Information based on 6 servings :Calories 291, Calories from Fat 80; Total Fat 9g, Saturated Fat 4g, Trans Fat 0g; Cholesterol 21 mg; Sodium 282 mg; Carbohydrates 39g; Fiber 3g; Sugars 6g; Protein 15g

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Chive Butter: A Pictorial

Welcome to spring! The herbs are starting to sprout. Chives to me are the first sign of all the yummy things to come. However, I never seem to make a good dent in the supply before they go to seed (the flowers bloom and then dry out and the whole thing goes into hibernation until next year) so I've made chive butter. Serious yum factor. The nice thing about this butter is that you can freeze it so it's a great way to keep chives around long after they are gone from the garden.

First, set your butter out and let it come up to room temperature.
Next chop your chives up.

Mix them with the butter. Using a back of a big spoon makes it easier.
Plop the butter on some plastic wrap.

Roll the butter into a log.

Twist the ends to get a nice tight log

Pop in the fridge or freezer. This will keep for a couple of months in the freezer.

Serve this with potatoes, pasta, on fish or meat.
Have butter issues? I'll try not to rant about the evils of the over processed product known as margarine. I prefer butter because it's the least processed. And the French eat lots of it and they have a far lower rate of heart disease than we do here in North America! Margarine was originally commissioned by Napoleon as a butter substitute for his troops and the poor. While we can safely say that margarine today is not the exact same formulation as back then, we have discovered in recent years that the hydrogenated oil in it was bad. So why eat something that has been manipulated from it's original form? We are discovering how dangerous that really is. That being said, I do have margarine in the house for convenience sake. However I reach for the butter first. I'll get off my soap box now. You can try this with margarine but I've never seen it done. Please let me know how it works out for you.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Greek Souvlaki and Feta Tzatziki

This is a great grill time recipe but if the weather changes during the day (which is a good possibility around these parts) you can always broil or bake it.

I love Greek food! And it’s so healthy! The great thing about this dish is that you can do it all ahead and then at mealtime you just grill or bake. Easy! Start with a Mediterranean dip like hummus or baba ganoush and finish off the some baklava and you have a wonderful themed meal, suitable for guests. I like the leftover souvlaki in a pita with the tzatziki on top – what a great lunch!

Greek Souvlaki and Feta Tzatziki - Serves 6 -8. 7 Points

½ cup olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried mint
1 tsp black pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes

24 cherry tomatoes
24 mushrooms
1 large green and red pepper
2 red onions
1 lb pork, chicken or beef

1 ½ cup plain yogurt, preferably the Greek or Balkan style
½ cup grated English cucumber, water squeezed out
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ cup feta cheese

Mix together the marinade ingredients in a shallow, non-metal pan.
Cut peppers, onion and meat in 1 inch cubes
Toss souvlaki ingredients in the marinade and let sit for a minimum of 3 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.
Mix tzatziki ingredients and refrigerate until ready to eat.
Before cooking, arrange souvlaki ingredients on skewers.
Grill over high heat or bake at 425 for about 15 minutes. Serve with rice and tzatziki. Opa!

Nutrition Information based on 8 servings (without rice):Calories 306, Calories from Fat 176; Total Fat 20g, Saturated Fat 5g, Trans Fat 0g; Cholesterol 46 mg; Sodium 181 mg; Carbohydrates 15g; Fiber 2g; Sugars 10g; Protein 18g

Fresh squeezed lemon juice is best. One good size lemon should give you enough for both the marinade and the tzatziki. The superior taste over bottled lemon juice is well worth it in this recipe.

Use a decent quality olive oil. There is currently no regulation requiring that olive oil be labeled by origin of the olives. An olive oil that states it was bottled in Italy doesn’t mean all the olives come from Italy. Those olives could have travelled quite a ways to be part of the mix that ends up in that bottle. Buy your olive oil from a trusted importer. I buy mine from the Italian market and it comes from a cooperative of Greek olive growers. Taste great! And I didn`t pay a fortune for it either.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Time for the BBQ! A tip for Cast Iron Grills

It's here, it's really here! Spring has sprung, the birds are singing, I've discovered a pussy willow bush (impersonating a tree) in my back yard, and barbecue season is official started! I have bunches of pussy willows with their beautiful grey/brown fuzzy buds in my vases. And I stocked up on barbecueable meals. I'm ready!

Last year I got a new barbecue. If you have bought a new barbecue in the last 2 years you may notice that more and more of them are coming with cast iron grates. It's a little different to deal with cast iron grates. At first I thought "what a pain" but I do know that once you get the cast iron just right it's worth the effort. Now I have 2 cast iron pans that I have never gotten "just right". So I wasn't optimistic. I read the instructions for seasoning the grates and did as I was told. Basically you have to wash them in warm soapy water, oil them and bake them at a low temperature. This is typical of all cast iron. I've done this for my cast iron pans and I still have rust issues and well, I still haven't really seen the greatness of the cast iron.

I have been following the instructions for caring for the cast iron grates between uses. We usually care for stainless steel or porcelain covered grates by burning off the food bits and scraping the grates clean after using them. With cast iron you have to think differently. The goal is to protect the grates between use. So I've been oiling the grates a bit after they've cooled, before I put the cover back on the grill. I also don't scrap off the food bits until BEFORE I go to fire up the grill the next time. This not only protects the grill but also adds to the seasoning process.

Last Friday night I threw on some steaks, totally forgetting to re-oil the grates before putting the food on. I thought "oh shit, this is not going to be pretty" and I gave the steak a little jiggle. Now really the steaks had just gone on and should have been sticking to the grates until they were seared and ready for flipping. But guess what?! They weren't stuck! My cast iron grates are seasoned properly! Amazing! I can't believe I finally have some cast iron that works the way it's suppose to... And I had the most perfect sear marks on those steaks. I love how cast iron holds the heat.

Now I'm inspired to work a bit more with my cast iron pans. I think it's easier to get your barbecue grates seasoned properly because you don't have to store them. When I oil up my pans, I then have to put them in the cupboard somehow keeping them dry and not effecting my other pots and pans. With the barbecue the grates have lots of air circulation and I can oil them liberally without any worries. Remember I live 1.5 blocks from the ocean so the air is damp, protecting my grates is imperative! And so far, no signs of rust. And now they work like they are suppose to. So don't despair if you have cast iron grates on your new barbecue. Once you get them seasoned, they are the best at searing food, making your barbecue the culinary wonder it was meant to be!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

It's been a slice!

First, see above for a chance to win a $1000 Cookware set. Enter now! This is only open to US residents.. Sorry but even I can`t enter.

Second, it's about time I shared with you the details of my weekend in NYC. It was awesome! The theme of the weekend quickly became "It's been a slice!" cause we ate a quite a bit of good real NY style pizza. The stuff I grew up on. Sigh.... good stuff. I may be ruined for life. But I'll get to that.

We had our first slice at Villa Pizza in the Bergen Town Center. Villa Pizza has restaurants in Italy! Holy crap, how good of a pizza joint do you have to be to have restaurants in Italy. (They have franchise opportunities...maybe that should be my next career... oo, they have a South Philly Steak and Fries brand... that would suit me! I digress) Granny Tan and I were a little overwhelmed at the selection. We both ended up with plain pepperoni. Nothing like sticking with a classic. We also split a tomato, mozza and basil salad that was huge and tasty!

Saturday night we went for Turkish food at Lisa's Turkish Kitchen. I didn't get a pic of my meal. It was huge, it was tasty, it was a good time. Ridgewood, NJ is a lovely spot to hit for dinner. It's BYOB which has it's charm... it's make for a cheaper meal overall but you do have to keep this in mind when heading out. Granny Tan and I after our meal (and a day of shopping... see our smiles?! and you can't even see my new shoes!)
Sunday morning we headed into the city for a food tour of the West Village. It was raining but we were prepared and eager to eat! (just a side note, I've been back for less than 2 weeks and I've had to do 3 loads of dog towels from wiping puppy paws.... i love spring....)

We started the tour with the most perfect slice of pizza. You have got to hit Joe's Pizza on Carmine St.
Perfection. I may be ruined for all pizzas in the future. And I've had some pretty damn good pizza in my life (best pizza overall.... in Sweden! yup, I swear but since the odds of most of you getting to Stockholm are probably slimmer than getting to NYC....) Seriously, I may not ever be satisfied in a pizza kind of way again. This tour rocks!

Excuse me while I wipe the drool off my chin. Talk amongst yourselves. I need a moment.
Okay, next we hit Bleecker Street and O&Co, an olive oil, vinegar and spreads shop. Note this link is Canadian! Yup, you can get this stuff delivered in Canada. But if you go to the .com site you see that there are locations in several different countries for you international readers. Ooooo, sweat nectar from the gods!
Olive oil is like wine. The quality varies. I have one less expensive olive oil for cooking with and a high quality French (that I picked up at O&Co) for salads and such. I also picked up a basil infused olive oil that is deadly tossed on tomatoes!
Next stop was Faiccos where the firemen were getting their lunch. We likey firemen!
We also ate a fried rice cheese ball. Yum! I wonder if I can make these at home without a deep fryer? These would be awesome appies for a cocktail party.
Our next stop was a 40 year old herb and spice shop called Aphrodisia, still on Bleecker Street.
We had a herbal tea tasting while there and sniffed some of the spices. Granny Tan went back for some paprika, I got some ground porcini mushroom powder! Cool.
Time to get off Bleecher street for a while. We headed over to 7th Avenue to Centro Vinoteca where the Head Chef Leah was on the show Top Chef!
It's a bit expensive but would make for a nice evening out. They have an extensive wine list.

We had a farro mushroom risotto. Alana and I aren't big mushroom fans but this was good. I gave my biggest mushroom pieces to Granny Tan but overall, yummy!

We also had the opportunity to enjoy a glass of wine. They sell wine by the quarter bottle which is a great way to sample wine with a friend! Our hosts with the mosts enjoying a glass! No really, Adam was enjoying the tour, I swear. And Alana is only blurry when she drinks wine.

We then roamed around the village and had a tour of some of the landmark areas. Beautiful. Then it was time for some cookies. I ate mine too fast to get a pic.

Then is was back to Bleecher Street. We started our tour at Murray`s Cheese Shop and then hit it again later for a cheese tasting.

We had a smoked goats milk cheese, a dutch cheese and a Parmesan. The meat was actually from Faicco`s. I could have spent the afternoon in this store. And I could have bought half the contents however, trying to cross the border with cheese is not recommended (I`ve tried and had my precious cheese taken from me... I`m still traumatized by the whole thing).

We ended the tour the way any good visit to NYC should end - with a cannoli. An awesome cannoli from Rocco`s Pastry shop.

After the tour we went back to a O&Co to buy some olive oil and to Aphrodisia to buy some spices. We had beers at the Blind Tiger then headed over for a great deal on oysters at Fish still on Bleecker. 6 oysters and a glass of wine for $8. Alana wasn`t sure about raw oysters so we recommended she get the clams, same deal. Never did we imagine that the clams would be raw! I must say, I`ll stick with the oysters!

We decided to hit NYC`s second oldest pizzaria for dinner, John`s Pizza. They`ve been around since 1929 and still use their original coal oven. And it`s cheap! But get there earlier or you`ll be lined up outside for a while.

We got a pitcher of beer for less than $20. (I had a glass of white wine, served in a juice glass!)
Note the decor on the table. This place had character! We got a salad to share. It was enough for 4 people who had spent the day eating...

And then we split a pie. Sigh... it was good.

I must say, one could spend a day just on Bleecher street. Check out this or some of the other tours they offer. Money well spent.

We also got a tour guide of the recommended restaurants in the area. The tour was $46 and worth every penny. I`ll be keeping my tour guide for my next visit (and for anyone heading down that way, just email me, I`ll share info!)

Now, I must go figure out what to eat for dinner! Hmmm could I make thin crust....