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