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Archive for the ‘Chicken’ Category

When I was first dating JT, back in the eighties, his dear Mom would make a version of this salad for lunch. She wasn’t into cooking so this type of dish was perfect, few ingredients and easy to assemble. She would poach the chicken where I prefer to use leftover BBQ’d chicken because of the additional flavours the smoke of a charcoal BBQ adds, but leftover rotisserie chicken works wonderfully as well. The original recipe was heavy in mayonnaise, I like to lighten it up with a little yoghurt and a splash of lemon juice. The flavours and textures really hit the spot.

Waldorf Salad was created by Oscar Tschirky, in the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City in 1896. The original Waldorf was made with only apples, celery, and mayonnaise, it did not contain a protein or nuts. The latter two were additions made in the 20th century. I like to make this salad with chicken or canned tuna, both are equally satisfying.

Chicken Waldorf Salad

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes 2 portions for lunch or a light dinner

Ingredients:

  • 100 g BBQ’d or rotisserie chicken, cubed or 1 tin albacore chunk tuna in water or stock 
  • 1/2 cup diced celery (dice all items similar size)
  • 1/2 green onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 apple, diced 
  • 2 tbsp walnuts pieces, toasted
  • squirt of lemon juice, more for taste 
  • 15 mL mayo (I used full strength)
  • 15 mL yoghurt (I used an Icelandic style)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Drain the tuna and set aside, if using.
  2. Add the apple to a small bowl and squirt a bit of lemon juice on it to prevent it from oxidizing.
  3. Add the celery, green onion, walnuts and apple to a bowl and combine well.
  4. Combine the mayo and yogurt with a squirt of lemon juice, salt and pepper and stir well. Add it to the vegetable fruit mix and coat evenly.
  5. Add the cubed chicken or chunk tuna and stir until equally distributed.
  6. Serve on a bed of salad greens, butter lettuce is particularly nice.

 

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During our first major grocery shopping when we arrived in Spain, JT bought some frozen ready-made Tuna Empanadas. I was excited because we love tuna and we love empanadas and we had never had tuna empanadas. Sadly, we were extremely disappointed, the quality just wasn’t there. The filling was mainly tomato sauce with nary a taste of tuna. But I got the taste of empanada in my head and I knew eventually, I would need to make some.

I made most of our meals during our time in Spain. And when I did, I made double or triple batches so that we could have a quick lunch or dinner after a tiring day of exploring. The European refrigerator in our flat has three good-size freeezer drawers to store home-made meals. At home in Toronto, I make these traditional Chilean empanada made with beef and pork; years ago a friend and neighbour kindly showed my Mom how to make and it’s been family favourite ever since. But in Spain, beef is not as common so I decided to use Chicken. I didn’t grind the chicken (no meat grinder) but I roughly chopped it into smallish chunks so that you can still get a chicken texture as you eat the empanada. Another option would be to roast it and shred it.

The winds on the Med had increased to about 45 km per hour, which made sitting outside nearly impossible. In fact, I was worried the wind would pick up the empanada and steal it away!

Empanadas de Pollo (Chicken Empanada)

Makes 6 large empanadas

Ingredients:

  • 30 mL olive oil
  • 90 g onions, roughly chopped
  • 12 g roasted puréed garlic
  • 433 – 450 g skinless chicken breast, roughly chopped
  • 12 black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 10 dates, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 200 g frozen mixed vegetables, defrosted and drained
  • 3 g cumin
  • 1 g smoked paprika
  • 3 sheets puff pastry, defrosted in the refrigerator
  • 1 egg, whisked with 30 mL water

Directions:

  1. Sauté the onions in the olive oil until translucent. 
  2. Add the chicken and stir to cook evenly. Cook all the way through.
  3. Add the roasted garlic, cumin and cook stirring until fragrant. Remove from heat and stir in the drained frozen vegetables, black olives and dates. Set aside in the refrigerator to cool completely.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each puff pastry sheet to 20 cm x 40 cm and cut in half, then cut each half into a 20 cm circle, reserve pastry ends for the fancy finish.
  5. Brush all around the edges with the egg wash. Fill one half of the round with 1/6th of the cooked, cooled chicken mixture leaving about 2 cm all the way around the edge and then fold half to create a crescent, pressing down the edges to seal.
  6. Brush the top of the empanada with the egg wash. Finish edges into a fancy design (I used the left-over pastry and made it into a rope design). Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate or freeze until ready to bake.
  7. Continue with remaining ingredients until you have 6 meal-sized empanadas. 
  8. Freeze for future use or bake at 400° F until pastry is golden.
  9. Serve with a lightly dressed salad.
The vegetables are also unusual for empanadas, but we like veggies so I added them!

Notes:

  • Traditional Chilean Empanadas are made with golden raisins but believe it or not, I was not able to find any type of raisins in our little village so I used dates. This is not a sweet dish, the dates or raisins just add a bit of sweetness so taste your dates or raisins and determine how many you will use depending on how sweet they are. The dates I used were not the same sweetness that the dates I buy in North America, so I used ten, but you may need to reduce it if you use the super sweet kind. 
  • I used puff pastry because my little kitchen in Spain is ill-equipped and very small. You can use this recipe for pastry but I am unsure of how well-fitting the proportions of filling to pastry will be. You can always freeze extra pastry in a ziplock bag.

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We may have put on a few pounds during our holidays. It’s always so difficult to stay on track while on holiday, but the plus side is that we did walk a lot, the day we visited the Alhambra in Granada we walked 11 kilometres!

Now that we are back to reality, we wanted to get back into eating fewer carbs. This used to be one of JTs favourite meals but I was a little apprehensive in making chicken cutlets without breadcrumbs and this recipe definitely does not disappoint. The almond flour crisps up beautifully and provides a wonderfully flavoured coating. I served this cutlet with cauliflower purée and cucumber salad. JT loved it.

A tasty cutlet that doesn’t dry out.

Low Carb Chicken Cutlets

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 200 g chicken breast
  • Pinch of dehydrated garlic powder
  • Pinch of dehydrated onion powder
  • 1 egg
  • 5 g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 75 g almond flour
  • Pinch of herbes en Provence
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 30 mL grapeseed oil for frying

Directions:

  1. Portion two 100 g chicken breasts and pound thinly between sheets of plastic wrap.
  2. Combine the Parmesan cheese and almond flour, set aside.
  3. Lightly whisk the eggs with the herbs, onion, garlic and salt together and set aside.
  4. Dip the chicken breast into the egg and coat it, allow excess to drip off. Then dip it into the almond flour mixture to coat both sides. Repeat with the second breast.
  5. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Pan fry chicken both sides until the internal temperature is 171° C. Serve hot with lemon wedges.

Net carbs are only 2.8 g! Chicken Cutlets only, no sides.

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chickenschnitzel_first

We just got back from a two-week holiday in Arizona. I apologize for not commenting as much as I usually do, but you know the drill on holidays.

Regarding Arizona, I would love to say it was perfect weather, and perhaps it was, for Toronto weather but it was cold, sometimes snowy and rainy. Our time with dear friends more than made up for the lousy weather. Although we did have a few gloriously sunny days before the ugly, rainy days we spent in Sedona. Fortunately, our time at the Grand Canyon was clear, albeit cold (read: two layers of leggings, three long-sleeved Ts and a light winter jacket with hat, mittens and scarf). Once I get our photos sorted, I’ll post a few good ones on the blog, in the meantime, I thought I’d share one of my favourite ‘diet’ dishes, chicken “schnitzel” with roasted garlic cauliflower mash!

Chicken “Schnitzel” with Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mash

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 460 g cauliflower
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, roasted
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 165 g chicken breast, boneless, skinless
  • 35 g egg white
  • 2 Ryvita whole wheat snack bread
  • 10 g whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup Herbes en Provence with granulated onion and garlic
  • few sprays of non-stick spray
  • chopped fresh dill for garnish

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425° F.
  2. Break down cauliflower into equal-sized florets and set on a baking sheet lightly sprayed with non-stick spray. Roast until softened. Add a bit of water at the end to steam to perfect tenderness for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the cauliflower florets into a glass bowl and add the roasted garlic cloves. Blitz with the hand blender until creamy and smooth, adding a bit of water if necessary (I just added the left-over steaming liquid from the roasting pan). Set aside.
  4. Divide the chicken into two equal portions and butterfly each, cover the chicken with plastic and flatten it to about 0.5 cm or 1/4 inch with a kitchen mallet. Put them into the fridge.
  5. Add Ryvita to a small zip lock bag and smash into smaller but coarser bits. Add the Herbes en Provence and mix well.
  6. Add the egg whites into a large flat bowl and beat with a fork.
  7. Remove one chicken cutlet from the fridge and lightly dust each side with the whole wheat flour. Then dip it into the egg whites to cover both sides. Sprinkle each side with the Ryvita mixture to coat evenly. Repeat with second cutlet.
  8. Heat a non-stick frying pan. Spray each side of each cutlet and cook cutlets on both sides until nicely golden and the internal temperature is 185°F. Serve immediately with a slice of lemon and some fresh dill sprinkled onto it.

Notes:

  • The diet I use allows for two 100 g servings of protein per day.
  • If you don’t have roasted garlic on hand, simply put a few unpeeled cloves into a ramekin filled with a little water or stock and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake until softened.
  • Even though the chicken is very thin, it is so tender, it will knock your socks off.

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My Father in Law passed recently. He made his 92nd birthday two-weeks earlier. It was very sad to lose him but to be honest, the last few years have not been kind to him, he simply existed, partly by choice and partly by nature (use it or lose it). That’s all of our parents now and I must tell you that it feels weird being an orphan at my age, both JT and I were very close to each other’s parents. Since Dad lived in Toronto, we made arrangements close to home and our home was the hub, which proved to be a lovely distraction. Our dearest friends Paul and T drove up from Wisconsin to help us and console us. Paul had known JT’s Dad through business so there was a strong connection with him. My newly married nephew and his bride also stayed with us because they live about two and half hours from the city. The house was alive with action! My FIL would have LOVED it!

Everyone came to the city to be at his bedside—I know he would have loved that too, although he didn’t love attention, he loved the buzz of activity. He passed very peacefully during the early hours of the morning of May 28, he didn’t suffer long. That evening, everyone gathered at our home and we had a wonderful family dinner telling stories and being there for each other. We ate rotisserie chicken, a variety of store bought salads and some homemade cookies I had in the freezer (I didn’t have time to throw anything together). We had the visitation on June 2 and the service on the 3rd. At 12pm on the 2nd, I discovered that everyone was coming for dinner just prior to the service the very next day so I sprung into action and made a huge batch of chicken mole out of the leftover rotisserie chicken. Fortunately, I had tried this recipe before and got the thumbs up from JT, so it was an easy decision to make it again.

ChickenMole_2 We had a couple of leftovers that JT and I had for dinner later that week.

The mole sauce can be made in a slow cooker but I did it stove-top this time—I found it therapeutic to be involved in the dish, chopping, stirring and cooking. Like any saucy dish, this definitely tastes better the next day. The rotisserie chicken is an easy addition to the mole, just shred it and stir it into the cooled mole sauce, fill the corn tortillas, refrigerate overnight so the flavours can meld. It was a huge success! Everyone loved it.

JT usually orders a mole when we dine at a Mexican restaurant and I’ve always wanted to try my hand at it. Although there are many recipes handed down generations that take two to three days to make, this one can be made in about an hour. It developes the depth of flavour as it sits overnight. I would not rush it, make it a day or two ahead.

Bucket List

Chicken Mole Enchiladas

Makes 24 Enchiladas (15 cm or 6 inch corn tortillas)

For the original recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 750 mL (3 cups) sodium-free chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 500 mL (2 cups) freshly squeezed orange juice (about 3 good sized oranges)
  • 30 mL (2 tbsp) EVOO
  • 570 g (1 1/4 lb) sweet onions, sliced
  • 55 g (about 1/2 cup) sliced almonds
  • 6 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 8 g (4 tsp) cumin seeds
  • 8 g (4 tsp) coriander seeds
  • 4 g dried pasilla chiles, stemmed, seeded, torn into 1-inch pieces, rinsed*
  • 4 g dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, torn into 1-inch pieces, rinsed*
  • 40 g (about 1/4 cup) raisins
  • 4 8 cm x 1 cm (1/2-inch) strips orange peel (orange part only)
  • 1.5 g (1 1/2 tsp) dried oregano
  • 45 g semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 g ground cinnamon (omit if using Mexican chocolate)
  • Chopped fresh cilantro or green onions
  • 24 corn tortillas
  • 1 rotisserie chicken (or 3 left over), shredded (replace with firm tofu or beans if vegetarian)
  • 200 g (2 cups) Queso de Oaxaca or Mozzarella Cheese, grated
  • Crème fraîche, sour cream or yogurt as garnish
  • Sriracha sauce/or chipotle mayo as garnish

Directions:

  1. Heat the EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) a large Dutch oven, add the sliced onions and sweat them out.
  2. Add the almonds and toast slightly. Add the garlic and cook until they release aroma, then add the cumin, coriander, two types of chilies (*replace with 15 mL (1 tbsp) smoked paprika if you prefer less spicy food) and cook until you can smell the spices.
  3. Add the raisins, orange peel, oregano, chicken stock and orange juice. Mix well. Simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. If using the dry chilis, remove them and discard.
  4. Add the chocolate and cinnamon (or Mexican chocolate) and stir until chocolate has completely melted. Using an emersion blender, blitz the sauce until very smooth. Cool completely. Set aside 2 cups of sauce. Stir in the cold shredded rotisserie chicken.
  5. Fill each corn tortilla with some chicken mole and a little cheese, tuck the rolls into an oven proof pan with the rolled end secured. Repeat until there is no more mole. Pour reserved sauce over the enchiladas, sprinkle with grated cheese. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
  6. 1 hour prior to sitting down to eat, preheat oven to 350° F (177° C). Bake enchiladas for 30-40 minutes or until totally heated through (inside temperature should be around 150° F (66° C) and cheese should be melted and bubbling.
  7. To serve, drizzle with Crème fraîche, sour cream or yogurt and Sriracha sauce or chipotle mayo. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and/or green onions. Serve over Coconut Cauliflower Rice (recipe to come).
ChickenMole_3 We had these at the cottage a week or so ago. I added a little guacamole for fun. I don’t have many food style tools at the cottage so the garnish is quite rough.

Notes:

  • The enchiladas freeze well. You may wish to slip a piece of parchment between each enchiladas so you can easily separate them.
  • *If you are concerned about the dish being too spicy, omit the dried chilis and replace them with 15 mL (1 tbsp) smoked paprika.

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ChickenALaKingSoupDuring my childhood, we ate mostly Canadian-ized Hungarian food. And by Canadian-ized, I mean that Mom used yogurt instead of tejföl (sour cream), oil instead of lard etc. Every weekend we would have a roast of beef or pork (but mainly beef) and in the summer, Dad would BBQ steak and thick juicy bacon (szalonna). On weekdays Mom had her repertoire of chicken and fish dishes and I do recall the odd (when Dad wasn’t home for dinner) meatloaf, with the obligatory hard-boiled egg inside and various Hungarian stews like Lecsó and tok fózelék (a similar dish to creamed spinach but it’s on the sour side).

Around the timeI turned 14, I became interested in cooking recipes that I chose myself and my dear Mom encouraged me. One of my favourite resources very early on was the Milk Calendar, put out in full colour print for free by the Dairy Farmers of Canada. Every December, I eagerly awaited the Milk Calendar tucked away in the weekend edition of the Toronto Star. One of the first dishes I ever made on my own was Chicken á la King with leftover chicken (back in the day when a roast chicken fed a family of four AND had enough leftovers for another meal!)

I have to admit, I am unsure if the following inspiration came from the Milk Calendar (I’m leaning toward this) or my beloved Five Roses Cookbook (recipe page 233). What I can tell you with most certainty is that as I was making this soup, I instantly recognized the aroma and flavour of our beloved childhood Chicken á la King. The ingredients are quite unexpected and it’s pretty healthy to boot. If you love the flavours of a creamy Chicken á la King, you will LOVE this recipe.

When did you first begin cooking on your own and did you have a favourite recipe book that you used until it fell apart?

ChixALaKingSoup_7961

Chicken á la King Soup

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes  3 or 4 servings 700-800 mL (3 1/2-4 cups),

Ingredients:

  • 180 g red lentils, rinsed and picked through
  • water to cover
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil, divided
  • 1/4 cooking onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 celery stalk, cubed
  • 1 carrot, cubed
  • 2 radishes, cubed
  • 2 tbsp frozen peas (optional garnish)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 100 g chicken breast, skinless and boneless, cut into smallish strips
  • chicken stock
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. In a medium, heavy bottomed pot, add 1 teaspoon vegetable oil and sauté the celery, carrot, and radish until soft. Add the chicken and cook through. Set aside in another bowl.
  2. In the same saucepan, add the remainding 1 teaspoon vegetable oil and sauté the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant. Add the lentils, stir and cover with water. Cook until lentils are very soft. Remove from heat and blitz with an immersion blender until very smooth, adding chicken stock until desired thickness is achieved (I left mine relative thick so it’s more stew-like). Add the apple cider vinegar and blitz until well blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Return the puréed lentils to the heat and slowly reheat, add the cooked vegetables and chicken and stir well. Serve pipping hot.

ChickenalaKingNF

Healthy Chicken á la King Soup

WWPointChixalaKing 

Traditional Chicken á la King

 

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PaellaBake_First

Cottage season is almost over and we’re heading right into the holidays: Canadian Thanksgiving, Halloween, American Thanksgiving and then Christmas! My how time flies. This “recipe” has become a “go to” recipe for brunches and lunches at the cottage where refrigerator space is at a premium and standard grocery items are difficult to find (to say the least). It’s the perfect recipe to reinvent ‘leftovers.” For the last couple of years, whenever I make a one pot rice dish like Paella, Jumbalaya, Risotto or even a pasta dish like JT’s Mediterranean Pasta, I ALWAYs make 2 extra servings. The trick is to set aside the two extra servings so that you’re not even tempted to finish off every last bite and lick the plate clean ;-p! The two extra servings combined with eggs and a little flavouring bake up into the most delicious dish, you will be tempted to make the recipe just to rebake it for brunch the following day! And the best part is that it freezes very well, so even if there is only two dining on leftovers, freeze the rest cut into single portions in a ziplock bag, ready for a quick lunch or a fancy brunch.

LimerickLake

On some mornings the lake is so very still.

PaellaBake

Bits of the seafood, chicken and chorizo dot the delicious egg bake.

Paella Bake

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Serves 8

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F (177° C). Prepare a square baking pan with perpendicular sides (some square cake pans have angled sides). Line with parchment so that it extends up two of the sides. Spray lightly with nonstick spray.
  2. Combine eggs and La Bomba and whisk well. Fold gently into the leftover paella being careful not to squish the rice into a mushy mess.
  3. Pour into the prepared pan and jiggle around making sure that the proteins are distributed evenly. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
  4. Cool slightly and cut into 8 portions with a very sharp knife. Serve with lemon slices and a light salad.

PaellaBake2

Would you care for a slice?

PaellaBake3

Our Paellas are always full of flavour.

LimerickLake_Sunset

Red sky at night, sailors’ delight!

LimerickLake_cocktails

Cocktails inside the screen-in porch, so peaceful.

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Did you have pancakes on Tuesday? Pancakes are traditionally served on shrove Tuesday, not sure why but because we love the ‘cakes of pan’ we had these beauties for dinner Tuesday night. Thank you Sissi.

In early February, mid-February, late-February and now early March, we have been going through a bit of a deep chill which always makes us crave hearty, spicy foods. We invited my nephew, niece and her beau to dinner last month and I wanted to serve something new, for them and for me (I’ve never made this before!) so I turned to the hearty West Indian Rôti, always comforting with it’s warm flavours and great textures.

I chose Chef Marcus Samuelson’s Trinidadian Chicken Roti recipe, with some very minor alterations. I also used this recipe* for my Jamaican Curry powder; I actually liked the second one because I was able to make as much or as little as needed — I used 1 teaspoon as my single measure for the ratios which made more than enough for 4 tablespoons! You may also buy Jamaican Curry Spice ready made from the store.

There is absolutely nothing stopping you from omitting the chicken and using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth to make this entirely vegetarian, you can even add tofu but the chickpeas are likely filling enough.

Below is the calorie count for one of the Rôti’s served at our favourite takeout place.  After the success of this recipe, I suspect that rôti will not be bought take out ever again! For the record, I always cut my rôti in half and shared it with someone else!

Calories: 1,013 YIKES!
Fat: 43 grams DOUBLE YIKES!
Sodium: 1,617 milligrams OMG!
Carbohydrates: 106 grams
Protein: 51 grams

Chicken Roti_2099

A perfectly seasoned and slightly spicy Chicken, chickpea and kale roti

Trinidadian Chicken Rôti

Makes 8 servings. Please see Chef Marcus Samuelson’s original recipe here. Make the curry a day in advance because it will taste better!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried sprouted chickpeas**, rehydrated over night (or low sodium can of cooked chickpeas)
  • 3+ cups chicken stock
  • Quick spray of non-stick spray
  • 1 large red onion, finely sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium Chinese egg plant, cubed
  • 2 generous cups kale, chopped
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 4 tbsp Jamaican curry powder*
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • salt, to taste
  • 800 g chicken breasts, no bone, no skin, cut into even chunks
  • 1/4 cup white wine

Directions:

  1. Add the sprouted chickpeas and stock to a slow cooker and set on high for 4 hours.
  2. Spray a large dutch oven with non-stick spray and sweat the onions until translucent on medium heat.
  3. Add the garlic, eggplant and kale and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add the Jamaican curry powder, cumin and salt and pepper and stir until fragrant. Add the vinegar and give it a good stir. Using a silicon spatula, scrap this mixture into the slow cooker and give it a good stir. Cook on high for 4-6 hours.
  4. About 1 hour before serving, reheat the dutch oven and sear the chicken pieces in the spice laden dutch oven. Add the chicken to the curry in the Dutch oven. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and add to the curry.
  5. Give the curry a good stir and reset the timer and heat to Low for 1 additional hour.
  6. You may need to add a bit more more stock if the curry is too thick because you want a lot of gravy.
  7. Serve with Roti bread.

Chicken Roti_2097

Delicious!

** I tried sprouting my chickpeas for the first time on my friend Norma’s suggestion, not sure it made much of a difference the taste but it was fun to do.

Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 3.00.46 PM

Nutrional Facts for the Curry

Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 2.26.11 PM

Nutrional Facts for the Roti Bread

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Remember back in March, we held our second progressive dinner on our street and it happened to fall right smack in Earth Hour? Our course was the appetizer and I chose to make Sopa Azteca or Tortilla Soup. The soup was a resounding success, full of flavour, colour and texture, but I did the unthinkable — I completely forgot to record my recipe which worked out to be a hybrid of Rick Bayless’s Sopa Azetca and a recipe that my good friend Barb of Profiteroles and Ponytails posted about some time ago!

Cinco de Mayo was just a few weeks ago and I thought it’s a perfect time to recreate this wonderful soup, before the weather starts getting too hot to enjoy soup. There is a bit of prep work, but once it’s all done, you pop it into a slow cooker and forget about it. I would even suggest you make it the day before you want to serve it because it’s just that much tastier the next day.

This soup is well worth the effort.

This soup is well worth the effort.

Sopa Azteca (Tortilla Soup)

Serves 4, dinner portions

Ingredients:

  • 100 g onions, coarsely chopped
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 small smoked dried haberno chili peppers, seeds removed (haberno is hot)
  • 1 large pasilla chili pepper, seeds removed (pasilla is much more mild)
  • 4 coriander stems with roots (rinsed well)
  • 2-3 epazote stems (I could only find dried, you could probably use a bay leaf instead, but remember to remove it or omit it entirely)
  • 800 mL strained tomato purée (I prefer low sodium)
  • 2 L low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp coriandre
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups frozen corn (or fresh on the cob BBQ’d and kernals cut off)
  • 1 small whole wheat soft tortilla shell

BBQ’d Chicken or Turkey Breast (omit if you are using a previously roasted whole chicken)

  • 400 g skinless, boneless chicken or turkey breast or 1 previously roasted chicken
  • 1 dried haberno pepper, seeds removed
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

Avocado Garnish (or use guacamole):

  • 1 small avocado
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 green onions, roughly chopped

Other Garnishes:

  • 4 tbsp low fat yogurt
  • 4 tbsp shredded Mexican melting cheese (like Chihuahua or mozzarella)
  • 1 lime cut into wedges

Directions for the Soup:

  1. Prepare your slow cooker by preheating it. Add the tomato sauce and chicken stock to the slow cooker; add the dried epazote and cilantro stems and roots.
  2. If you are using a previously roasted chicken, remove all the tiny bones and add it to the slow cooker, covering with the liquid.
  3. Add the seeded, dried chilli peppers (if you prefer less heat, put these peppers into a cheese cloth bag and tie off).
  4. Add the onions and garlic and cocoa, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika and coriander into the tomato sauce and stir well. Add  1 cup of corn.
  5. Cook on a medium low setting for 3-5 hours.
  6. Remove the woody stems and roots of the cilantro and epazot and discard, blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve to remove all the corn husks return to the slow cooker and add the other cup of corn. Keep warm until you wish to serve.

Directions for the Chicken or Turkey (omit if you are using a previously roasted chicken):

  1. Combine everything for the rub but the chicken or turkey in a dedicated coffee grinder for spices and grind until it’s a fine powder.
  2. Remove any bits of fat or skin from the chicken or turkey and completely coat with the dry rub. Refrigerate while soup is cooking.
  3. BBQ (with or without smoke) until the internal temperature is 74°C or 165°F. Set aside for 10 minutes and then using a fork, tear bite size pieces off. If you’re not going to use it right away, refrigerate and reheat when ready to use.

Directions for the Avocado Garnish:

  1. Peel and chop the avocado into half centimetre cubes (1/4″).
  2. Combine with the garlic, lime juice, cilantro and green onions and stir well.
  3. Refrigerate until serving.

Tortilla Cones:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175° C or 350°F.
  2. Lightly brush the tortilla shell with olive oil to prevent it from drying out.
  3. Using a pizza cutter and a kitchen ruler, cut the tortilla shell into 5-7mm strips (1/4″).
  4. Join 3 strips together end to end using a bit of water and pressing the strips firmly together.
  5. Carefully wrap each strip, oiled side in, on the cannoli cones. I found that pressing some tin foil on the tips prevented them from unraveling.
  6. Bake for about 10 minutes turning once. You are aiming to dry out the tortilla into a crisp, cracker cone.
  7. When finished, allow to cool for a minute and gently pry the cone from the cannoli mold. Reserve for presentation.

Tortilla1_4657

The strips are being attached to each other.

Tortilla Cone_4658

I won’t lie and say it’s easy, but with a little practice, it worked out very well.

OvenReadyCone_4659

The cones are ready for the oven

They released perfectly without casualties.

They released perfectly without casualties.

Soup Assembly:

  1. Reheat the soup and chicken/turkey separately until piping hot. Ladle a generous amount of soup into each bowl, if using BBQd chicken or turkey breasts, shred into bite sized pieces and pile the chicken/turkey in the centre. If using the whole pre-roasted whole chicken, remove from bones and shred and pile into the centre of the bowl. Add a tablespoon of the avocado mixture and a tablespoon of yogurt. Sprinkle a tablespoon of the grated cheese over the hot soup and add the tortilla cone last to stand in the centre.Serve immediately with a wedge of lime.

Serving suggestions:

  • Serve with Jalopeño corn bread.
  • Instead of fussing with the tortilla cones, just toast the sliced tortilla strips until crisp and serve piled in the centre like a Tee-Pee.

 

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My friend Barb made an incredible feast for Chinese New Year, she had so many delicious things it was really difficult to choose just one. But when I saw the Lemon Chicken plated out, I knew I had to try it because, believe it or not, I happen to adore the not so good for you version at Chinese fast food stalls! It turns out that lemon in savoury dishes is not one of JT’s favourite things, although he did say he didn’t hate it. Well, what he actually said was he prefers the taste of lemons in desserts! Go figure. I really enjoyed this recipe because I adore sour and sweet combos. And I have to admit, I reduced the sugar for our dinner and if I were to make it again, I would reduce it even more as I found it a little too sweet for my taste (I have adjusted the recipe below to reduce the sugar). I also baked the skinless, boneless Chicken breasts instead of pan frying to be a little healthier.

Lemony Chicken

Original Recipe from House and Home

Serves 2, 100 g portions

IMG_4153_BLOG

Cutting the chicken into strips allows them to cook faster so that the crumbs become crispy but don’t burn.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp sugar (I have reduced this from my pictured recipe already)
  • 1 heaping tbsp grated ginger root
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 200 g boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 tbsp cold water
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 cup panko-style bread crumbs
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • Mix of greens such as shredded romaine lettuce.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine water, sugar and ginger in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes to infuse the water with the ginger.
  3. Stir in the freshly squeezed lemon juice and zest and quickly return to a boil.
  4. Dissolve the cornstarch in about 1 tbsp cold water and stir well into the lemon mixture. Cook on medium neat until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Remove all residual fat from the chicken. Place in a zip lock bag and pound so that the breasts are even thickness. Cut each breast into similar thickness stips.
  6. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl, stir well. Set aside.
  7. Whisk egg white, water, soy sauce and garlic in another bowl, set aside.
  8. Pour Panko into a third bowl and mix in the sesame seeds.
  9. Set up your breading stations so that the flour mixture is first, the egg whites second and the panko last.
  10. Dredge the chicken strips in the flour mixture and shake off excess, then dip into the egg whites and lastly coat with panko/sesame mix. Repeat with all the chicken strips until all have been breaded.
  11. Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for about 12-15 minutes (turning about mid way) or until chicken has an internal temperature of 165°F or 74° C.
  12. Reheat the sauce. Fill a bowl with mixed greens, place chicken strips over the greens and dress with the hot lemony sauce.
  13. Enjoy!

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It’s still blistery cold in these parts and we’re craving hearty foods. This was a recipe created because I wanted to make Naan again and I needed something Indian to go with it (I know, it’s usually the other way around, but I really wanted to eat test my new recipe again). It’s a lovely subtle curry with just enough spice to enhance the flavour and a wonderful creamy texture. I used coconut milk powder and water for the coconut milk in the recipe, but feel free to use the high fat canned stuff, I’m sure it will taste a lot richer. By the way, serve it with this Naan.

A delicicous combination of curry and coconut milk

Coconut Chicken Curry

Serves 4, 100 g servings of chicken each

Ingredients:

  • 400 g boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2.5 cm or 1 inch chunks
  • 1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 4 tbsp coconut milk powder
  • 400 mL or 14 oz warm water
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 red pepper sliced thinly
  • 1/2 green pepper sliced thinly

Directions:

  1. Heat oil and curry powder in a large skillet over medium-high heat for two minutes. Stir in onions and garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Add chicken, tossing lightly to coat with curry oil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in center and juices run clear. Reserve chicken.
  2. Combine coconut powder and warm water and mix well.
  3. Pour coconut milk, tomato paste, lemon juice and sugar into the pan and stir to combine. Cover and simmer stirring occasionally for approximately 30 to 40 minutes or until the coconut milk reduces to a nice thick sauce. During the final 15 minutes, add the red and green peppers so they don’t overcook and the chicken to reheat.
  4. Serve with Naan.

The most delicious naan yet

Yes, these are as good as they look. I kid you not.

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It’s that time of year again, cold and flu season. For the most part, I can pretty well ward off any cold or flu I come across with my evil powers (just kidding) but this one bugger finally got me late last week. I’d been plagued with a sore throat since a week ago Monday, but no coughing or sneezing or any other symptoms, until Saturday. My voice is now three octaves lower and a little raspier…dare I say sexy? Well, if it wasn’t for the sneezing and coughing, perhaps. But not so much ;-)!

We went Christmas tree chopping on Sunday (you may recall we did this last year too), I probably shouldn’t have gone, but I really, really, really wanted to. And it was cold, and slightly snowing. We snapped a few pics but the weather wasn’t great and I paid for it the following day. I stayed home and nursed my achy body. And with great timing, my friend Kelly up in Ottawa at Inspired Edibles created a alcohol free (I know, what was I thinking?) hot toddy that sincerely HIT THE SPOT. I will make this my go to winter drink when I feel a cold coming on. You can actually taste the healing properties (and heating properties ;-)!) I’m not going to post the recipe because I made it just as Kelly suggested (except I didn’t have star anise, so I used cloves instead) and her pictures are better anyway. Please do yourself a favour and try this drink. It is seriously yummy and it works!

Lightly snowing made it picture perfect for tree cutting

No, we don’t just walk into a forest to chop down our tree, we actually to go a tree farm!

We chose another smallish tree, but this one has a lot more girth (but Mum’s the word when the tree asks if it looks fat all dressed up!)

We’ll decorate it tomorrow night! (Weird glow is from the iPhone 4 flash)

When we arrived home that evening, I just felt like soup, so I made just what the doctor ordered, chicken noodle soup. This is a variation of Nigella’s Cold Cure Soup as I wanted something a little simpler than her version. And I only put 1/4 of a fresh lemon into it as I have found that more than that can make the soup bitter tasting, particularly when your taste buds are a bit off with a cold.

Cold Cure Chicken Noodle Soup

Serves 4 generous portions

A gorgeous mix of carrots, parsnips and onions garnished with parsley and green onion. There are glass noodles hiding in there too!

Ingredients:

  • 2 bone in, skinless chicken breasts (about 400-450 g)
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into large chunks
  • 1 medium parsnip, cut into large chunks (reserve the tops)
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, smashed but left whole (so you can remove them)
  • 1/4 lemon
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • Water
  • Salt to taste
  • Glass noodles
  • Parsley to garnish
  • Green onion to garnish

This is the instagram photo

Directions:

  1. If the chicken still has some fat on it, remove all fat (you’ll thank me later so your soup isn’t a large puddle of grease!). Sear the chicken breasts, meat side down until lightly browned.
  2. Add onion, carrots, parsnips, garlic and the lemon. Stir for a moment. Fill the pot with water to cover all of the chicken and vegetables.
  3. Wash and tie the parsnips tops, add to the soup pot. Cover and simmer until chicken is tender and cooked through (I found that 1 hour 30 minutes was good for our chicken, but you should definitely check the internal temperature) You don’t want to cook it too long so that the vegetables are not mushy!
  4. Remove chicken and allow to rest for about 5-7 minutes (covered). Taste and salt stock to your preference.
  5. In the meantime, soak the glass noodles according to directions.
  6. Strain the soup through a fine sieve, reserving the carrot, parsnip and onions. Discard the parsnip tops, garlic and lemon.
  7. Cut the carrot and parsnips into small bite size sticks.
  8. De-bone the chicken and tear into small bite-size pieces.
  9. Into four bowls, add even amounts of the noodles, vegetables and chicken and cover with the hot stock.
  10. Serve immediately garnished with parsley and green onions.

On an unrelated note, my blog is fast approaching our 100,000 visitor! I’m hoping we can reach that goal before the new year. I might even do a give away! Stay tuned.

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In October we were invited to another theme dinner party: Truman Capote’s Black and White Masquerade Ball, the party of the century! We were asked to dress in black and white and wear with a mask, which worked out perfectly since Halloween was just around the corner!

Our lovely hostess made this beautiful little booklet for the evening. The menu was pulled from Capote’s favourites, Basil Chicken Hash and served similar to the style of the time. We all had a blast! Mind you, I think we lasted about 10 minutes wearing the masks! Sadly, I didn’t get any pics of JT and I. Nor did I shoot the hash…but rest assured, it was AMAZING. The basil infused the chicken and although there is nothing Thai about it, it had a slight Thai flavouring to me. This will definitely go into our steady repertoire, such a flavourful and easy dish.

My friend chose Ina Garten’s recipe which turns out to be healthier than the real deal, believe it or not; Ina uses an extra pot to sauté the peppers, but I wanted to make it much simpler and modified the recipe accordingly.

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Our lovely hosts also gave us a bit of a teaser for the next themed dinner party in the Springtime…it will be Bond 007! What fun! Now, tell me which Bond girl should I be?

Basil Chicken Hash

Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa on Food Network

Serves 4, 100 g chicken per serving

Ingredients:

  • 1 or 2 chicken breasts, bone-in, skin removed (400 g)
  • 5 stalks of fresh basil leaves
  • dash of EVOO
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 small boiling potato, peeled and large diced
  • 1 red onion, chopped in large quarters
  • 1 red bell pepper, large diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 4 minced scallions, white and green parts
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh leaf parsley
  • dash of vegetable or chicken stock
  • Sea salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Spray the baking sheet with non-stick spray and lay two stalks of the basil leaves down (I was lucky, I used what was left from the garden).
  3. Place the chicken breasts on top of the basil, bone side down. Lightly rub each chicken piece with EVOO and sprinkle with salt. Put two more basil stalks on top of the chicken and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and cut the chicken in large dice pieces and set aside.
  4. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large sauté pan and add the potatoes and onions, salt and saute over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until evenly browned and cooked through. I added a dash of stock at this point. Add the peppers, garlic, thyme, paprika and tomato paste and mix well. Add the chicken and another dash of stock and place into the oven to finish for about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Garnish with the remaining torn basil leaves, minced scallions and chopped fresh parsley, toss together and place on a serving platter. Serve over greens (I only had one smallish potato but if you use the recipe as is, you will not need a side with it).

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As you know my dear friend Angela is hosting a Titanic Anniversary party on April 14; it’s the Centenary Anniversary and she is going all out for 8 of her most fortunate friends. JT and I are very happy to be included and I have embraced her enthusiasm and jumped on the band wagon, as any good friend would do (well, I’m no saint, the reasons are purely selfish, I just LOVE this kind of stuff), thank you Angela for allowing me to share in your excitement and to help with some of the food and the embellishments! I really do LOVE this stuff.

Many of my wonderful, gentle readers have been so generous with supportive comments and enthusiasm for this fun event, we thank you sincerely. My new found friend, Charlie Louie from Australia (I really do wish we were neighbours!) gave me a link to one of her very first posts on her lovely blog, Hotly Spiced that gave us a recipe for Duck Liver Pâté from a book she received as a gift from her son (she made her recipe with chicken livers, YUM). I remembered I had a couple of chicken livers in the freezer, so I thought, why not? Plus I needed a little appi for a friend coming over for drinks on Friday! We’ve had such a mild winter, and it warmed up to close to 20°C so we had to indulge and sit on the back patio for drinks after work. We still needed a sweater, but who cares, it was March 16 for crying out loud. I ain’t complaining!

The photo was taken last fall with the foliage in all its glory! Sadly the herbs have seen better days.

I don’t think Angela is including this recipe in her dinner, but I am totally into the mood, so I wanted to try it anyway (update, Angela has kindly given me the opportunity to make this appetizer as well, so I’m really pumped about it). I have to admit, it sounded a little bland when I first read it, but I wanted to keep it true so I didn’t change it up at all. The flavours were subtle yet it was very tasty. The liver really shined with the dash of rosemary. I used a square form that I was able to push the set paté out onto a plate, Charlie plated her’s in ramekins which also looked beautiful. I had to cut the recipe down because I didn’t have enough chicken livers (plus there were only three of us) but you can click here, for Charlie’s recipe. Note, as is my usual fashion, I cut down the butter and used milk instead of cream. I didn’t feel the taste suffered because of my changes.

Titanic Hors D’œuvres: Chicken Liver Pâté

Serves 4-6, depending on how hungry you are!

Chicken Liver Pâté on the back deck on March 16. Who would'a thunk it!

Ingredients:

  • 113 g Chicken Livers
  • 25 g melted butter
  • 13 mL milk
  • 1/4 tsp brandy (I actually cheated and added about a tablespoon)
  • 1/4 tsp chopped rosemary
  • crackers

Directions:

  1. Heat 15 g of the butter in a saucepan, add the livers and cook gently for 3-4 minutes. The livers should be cooked on the outside but a little pink on the inside.
  2. When the livers are cooked, place them into a processor and process until smooth.
  3. Add the brandy and rosemary to the saucepan then heat gently, scraping up the residue of the livers.
  4. Add the heated brandy and rosemary to the liver in the processor, together with milk and seasoning. Process until smooth.
  5. Pack the paté into a form (mine was square) and pour the remaining melted butter over the top of the pate to seal, cover and place in the fridge to chill. This should be made in advance so that the flavours have a chance to really pop.

Thanks again, Charlie, I look forward to making this for April 14th (I’ll likely do your proportions at that time!)

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I’m in a bit of blogging bog. I haven’t been inspired to make anything photo worthy or blog worthy. I totally dropped the ball on the weekend, did not plan out my blog entries nor did I even think about it. I still made my rounds reading and commenting, which is usually the fun part. But I had nothing to post.

My wonderful hubby, JT surprised me with a delicious dinner the other night, one that we used to have most Fridays (Fajita Friday), but since we’ve been trying to cut the carbs, haven’t had it for quite some time: Chicken Fajitas. On the most part, this is not an unhealthy dinner, provided you don’t eat heaps of it, but it is quite carb-ie due to the fajita shells so I did a little ‘take’ on it which considerably reduced the carbs and increased the fibre. She’s back!

Fajitas are all about the condiments! Darn, is that a glass of wine, during the week?

Instead of using my fajita shells to hold my toppings, I cut one up into strips, sprinkled the strips with cayenne and baked them in a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes until they were crispy. I was able to have only about half of a small 6″ tortilla as garnish on my fajita salad. It was surprisingly delicious and filling. I will have my fajitas this way from now on! JT had his traditionally in a soft tortilla shell.

Chicken Fajitas, low carb style

Makes one serving

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz chicken per person, shredded (we used our BBQ’d chicken we roasted on Sunday)
  • 2 cups of greens (arugula and spinach)
  • 3 mushrooms sliced thickly
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced onion
  • 1/4 red pepper thinly sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp fat-free, carb-free, low sugar hot salsa (we used Herdez)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • pinch of cayenne
  • sea salt and pepper
  • 1/2 soft whole wheat tortilla shell
  • non stick cooking spray

Condiment Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp fat-free Greek Yogurt
  • 1 sliced green onions
  • 1 tbsp shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3-5 grape tomatoes sliced in half
  • 1/2 tsp cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp guacamole (we usually make a large batch and save small portions in an ice-cube tray, it freezes very well)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Take one 6″ whole wheat soft tortilla shell. Spray lightly with non-stick spray on both sides. Cut into 1 cm or 1/2 inch strips. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and cayenne pepper. Bake for about 10 minutes, but watch carefully, because you want them crisp but not burned!
  3. In a cast iron pan, add a couple of squirts of non-stick spray. Add the onion and sauté until somewhat translucent. Add the mushrooms and sauté until golden in colour (this is why you don’t want them too thinly sliced, so they can stand up to the heat).
  4. Add the red peppers, garlic and cook just until you smell the garlic. Add the salsa sauce and stir well. Add the chicken and heat through.
  5. Spread the greens onto an appropriate plate, cover with the hot fajita mix, sprinkle with cheese, a dollop of the Greek yogurt and guacamole and arrange the crispy fajita shells on top. Sprinkle with green onions and cilantro.
  6. Dig in!

Yes, that plate is the bottom of a glazed flower pot. Clever huh?

I had it for lunch the next day and I must say, it was even better than yesterday. We will definitely be making this again.

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I know, my super bowl menu listed Honey Garlic Chicken Wings, but while I was grazing my reading list of blogs, I saw that Kay over at Pure Complex recently made Grilled Maple Mustard Chicken Wings and I just knew I had to revise my Honey Garlic CW to Maple Garlic Chicken Wings – yet another tip of the hat to the New England Patriots! Unfortunately, my photos just did not turn out well, so I trashed them. You’ll have to use your imagination on how yummy they were.

Maple Garlic Chicken Wings

Ingredients:

  • whole mess of wings (I like them separated so they bake more evenly)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • non-fat cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Dry off the wings and add to a zip lock bag.
  2. Mix all of the remaining ingredients and pour into the bag and close. Rub this mixture into the wings — you can leave in the fridge over night, if you wish.
  3. Pre heat oven to 200° C / 400° F
  4. Line a large baking sheet with parchment (will save a lot of time cleaning up). Spray a bit with the non-stick spray.
  5. Pour wings onto the sheet and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning once when the fist side has a nice golden colour to it.
  6. Enjoy with Blue Cheese dipping sauce.

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Although it has been unseasonably warm this past week in the big smoke, it’s been crazy rainy and windy. It’s a perfect time to stay in and make some healthy comforting food that is great for lunch the next day. I posted this recipe in 2009 because it is an incredibly tasty and easy dish for a week night, but I find myself craving to repost as I really hated the old photo! This is still JTs signature dish so I won’t alter his recipe other than how it has morphed over the years, and it has morphed a touch over the years. But I will say, please make this, it is really, really, really good!

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway! I’m really excited about the give away and what creative things you will make with it and blog about. I did forget to detail the time the draw closes: 12pm Eastern Standard Time, that will give me some time to get the correct entries together and have JT do the draw! As well, the Just a Pinch salts were purchased entirely by ME! It is not linked to any other promo! Time is a tickin’ people, better enter soon!

And did I mention that a couple of the answers are found in more than one post? Oops! Good luck!

A hearty but healthy dinner on a cold winters night

JTs Chicken Cacciatore

Adapted from Fannie Farmer, December 1984 (originally published in 1896!).
Serves 4 (2 dinners and 2 lunches in our case)

Ingredients:

  • 400g chicken breasts, skinless, boneless
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 28g dried mushrooms rehydrated in about 1 cup warm water, set liquid aside (make sure you strain through coffee filter to ensure no sand gets into it)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (or low sodium chicken stock)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red pepper, sliced (we used green this time because that is what we had)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste (put remaining tomato paste into an extra ice cube tray and freeze, remove from tray into a resealable container and voila, tomato paste as required!)
  • 2 cups canned Roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • Chili peppers to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Grated Parmesan, if you wish

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (or you could just cook the entire dish stove top with the lid on)
  2. Heat the oil in a large dutch oven and cook the chicken until lightly browned on all sides.
  3. Add the onion and sauté a minute or two and then add the wine and allow to boil up.
  4. Lower the temperature and add the garlic, tomato paste, tomatoes, pepper and the mushrooms.
  5. Add the seasonings, bay leaves and the mushroom liquid.
  6. Cover and bake in the hot oven for about 1 hour, or until chicken is cooked through. If you like a dryer cacciatore, leave the cover off so that some of the liquid evaporates; I prefer mine a bit wet so that it makes a tasty ‘dressing’ for the greens.
  7. Remove bay leaves, taste and season if required.
  8. Serve on a bed of mixed baby spinach and baby arugula leaves. You can also serve with grated Parmesan and a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, but we’re reducing our intake this week, so we omitted it.

Tips: You can also add black olives (chop in half) and crumble some sheeps milk feta on top instead of the Parmesan for a slightly Greek version of the dish.

I had to update this post with a photo I recently took with my iPhone at work. I just loved how rich the sauce looks and how luminous this photos is.

Our studio has amazing light. And yes, that surely is cayenne pepper on the chicken.

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My friend, Barb (Profiteroles and Ponytails) went to Australia several years ago and shortly after we visited her in Vancouver; for our premier dinner she made us the Thai Coconut Soup that is so famous in restaurants and it was delicious! I had no experience cooking Thai food at home and as a gift she bought me a Thai cookbook called Australian Woman’s Weekly, Easy Thai-Style Cookery. It is really my ‘go to’ cookbook for Thai food, my favourite being Lemongrass Soup. It has great step-by-step instructions on how to with very clear photos. You really can’t go wrong. I have made this soup so often I don’t even look at the recipe anymore and basically just eyeball and taste it, so you’ll have to excuse my loosey-goosey measurements! I have served this soup at several dinner parties and I am told by some of my Thai food-lover friends that it is very delicious!

Thai cooking is about balancing salty, sweet, spicy and sour so you really have to taste, taste, taste and adjust as you go along. My Lemongrass soup is my favourite to the restaurant variety as I find some too salty and too sweet. Most restaurant versions also don’t include fettuccine-sized rice noodles (half centimetre wide) in the soup, but there was one place across from the Eaton Centre on Yonge Street that always had the noodles in the soup and I really enjoyed it, so I usually include them!

This soup comes together very quickly, the hard part is waiting for the rice noodles to soften up. You can also substitute shrimp for the chicken.

Comforting lemongrass chicken soup

I always make an extra huge batch so I can take some to work for my lunch the next day.

A mouthwatering delicious balance of salty, sweet, sour and spicy; can I get you a bowl?

Thai Inspired Lemongrass Chicken Soup

Serves 3 in large bowls

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp flavourless vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 3oog boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced thinly
  • 2 cups thinly sliced plain white mushrooms (I like a lot of mushrooms in my soup)
  • 1/2 cup finely sliced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp ginger (ground is fine, fresh is better)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped lemon grass
  • 4 kafir lime leaves
  • 2 small bits of dry galangal (Thai ginger)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 2-4 tbsp sugar (or I used agave nectar)
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes (or to taste)
  • 4-6 cup water or low sodium chicken stock (I did a mix of the two to mitigate calories)
  • a good handful of fettuccine-sized rice noodles

Garnish:

  • 1/4 cup finely sliced green onion (forgot to add for the photo)
  • 2-4 Thai basil leaves, chiffonade (did not have this, nor did I miss it)
  • handful of chopped cilantro (did not have this, but I surely missed it)

Directions:

  1. Heat the water in your kettle until boiling. Pour over the rice noodles and allow to sit until they are totally reconstituted, 10-15 minutes. Do not over soak, you want a bit of a bite to it.
  2. In a large soup pan, heat the two oils until hot but not smoky (the sesame oil has a very low smoke point). Add the onions and stir until slightly translucent. Add the chicken and brown a bit. Turn the heat down to a simmer.
  3. Mix the cumin, coriandre, ginger and lemon grass together, sprinkle on the chicken and stir until you can really smell it. Add the garlic and stir once. Add all of the chicken stock, kafir leaves, galangal, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and chili flakes. Stir well. Heat so that the chicken cooks through. Once the chicken is cooked, taste for salty, sweet, spicy and sour balance and adjust accordingly. Remove the galangal and kafir lime leaves, discard.
  4. Put one third of the cold noodles into a large decorative white bowl. Add ladle-fulls of the chicken soup with bits of chicken, onion and mushrooms. Garnish with the green onion, chopped basil leaves and cilantro leaves. Enjoy.

Cooks tips:

  • Store your fresh ginger knobs in the freezer in a resealable container; grate on a fine micro-plane grater when required, you need not peel it! Keeps indefinitely.
  • I usually buy a large quantity of lemongrass and chop them finely in my food processor, and then I freeze them in a reusable container. I can usually break off what I need.
  • If you are taking the left overs to work, I recommend storing the cooked noodles in a separate container to the soup so that they don’t absorb any more liquid. When you reheat the soup, do so to just before boiling (so the chicken doesn’t cook further) and that way when you put the chilled noodles in, they will cool it down to a palatable level.
  • Fish sauce is used in thai cooking instead of salt.
  • To save time, I have sometimes used Rosa’s Lime Cordial instead of lime juice, but you have to remember NOT to add the sugar.

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Sunday we drove down to Niagara to chop down our Christmas tree. We started this tradition last year for something new to do; we found this family tree farm close to two restaurants we love and decided to make a day of it — tree chopping and lunch! We decided to go to Treadwells in Port Dalhousie, a lovely restaurant where the Dad is the Chef and the son is the Sommelier. We’ve been several times and we’re never disappointed; I had the French Onion Soup which I would highly recommend, JT had the lobster club — very decadent with the duck fat fried bread! My good fried Barb recommended the restaurant about 4-5 years ago — which is a perfect segway to the Crock Pot Chili we just made because it’s Barb’s recipe!

Our New Christmas Tree

Barb  just started blogging and her latest blog post was of the Crock Pot Chili; what a perfect meal  — the wonderful aroma wafting through the house, welcoming us upon our return with our tree! Please check out Barb’s blog Profiteroles and Ponytails. I’ve know barb for almost 20 years now, we met at my very first job, KPMG in their National Marketing department. Barb was a writer and I was the Senior Manager in the Design Department. We’ve not worked for KPMG for many years now, but we’ve been good friends ever since. Barb has always loved cooking and this blog is the perfect succession to her passion. Please do pay her a visit, she knows all about my blogging ‘friends’ and is excited to hopefully meet you!

The chili is pretty much to Barb’s recipe, with a few minor alterations as I didn’t have some of the ingredients on hand. I only had 300g of ground beef and turkey, so I added chopped Chorizo so that we could get 4-6 meals out of it (I’ll freeze it in batches of single servings so we can have a quick lunch on the weekends we’re too busy to cook). I also didn’t have canned beans, so I used 1 cup of dried Navy Beans; and because they had to reconstitute while cooking, I added 2 additional cups of stock to the pot. I also used home made tomato sauce, made with the tomatoes from our generous neighbours to the north. I added some mushrooms because I had them and they needed to be used up. The chili turned out quite delicious, richly flavoured with all spice, cocoa and chili powder. We served them in our little single serve Le Creuset casserole pans, topped with the delicious cornbread topping. I dolloped some non-fat Greek Yogurt with the chopped green onions on top. YUM! Thanks Barbie!

Barb's delicoius Crock Pot Chili

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February 10, 2013: I have updated this post with additional instruction for the nokedli and a new photo.

It’s the eve of Halloween and we’re getting really excited about our fast approaching trip to Morocco. There are so many things still to do, like packing, for example!

Our House Decked out for Halloween

Pumpkin Lights in the Planters

Not withstanding, I promised a scary story, the final installment. So here it is… Sadly, my dear Dad was jaundiced from owning a home because the Russians had taken away his family home and he was afraid it would happen again, so we lived in a very nice newly built apartment in suburban Toronto. We had just visited Hungary the first time and both my brother and I were a little freaked out because we had seen museum after museum of archeological digs – mainly skulls (Hungary was the munitions centre of the Roman Empire and the country is littered with Roman Ruins). The skulls both fascinated us and freaked us out at the same time.
Upon our return to Canada we decided to share a room in our apartment, on his side the walls were decorated with Hot Wheels and on mine, Barbie wallpaper. Most nights were fine, but on occasion one of us would have a bad dream and crawl into Mom and Dad’s bed. On this night, it was my brother that ventured into Mom and Dad’s room for safety and my Dad came in and slept in my brother’s bed.
Waking up in the middle if the night is never fun when you’re little; everything is so dark and shadows seem alive! I should have felt safe because my Dad was in the room, but he was snoring away about 10 feet from me and unaware of the shadows. The head of my bed faced away from the window; we were on the second floor and plenty of street light poured in through the curtains — plenty to make evil shadows come alive, that is. I awoke with a start! There is a HUGE man in a cowboy hat standing at the foot of my bed; I see only the silhouette, there are no features, but he looks mean. I can’t speak, I can hardly breathe. I blink, oh my god, he’s still there. I blink even harder, damn, still there. I hide my head under the covers and count to ten. There is no man in the room and my Dad is right there not more than 10 feet from me. I know it’s in my head, but crap, it seems so real. I peak out one last time, and HE’S STILL THERE. Now, I really can’t breathe. I hide my head under the covers and I stay there; I imagine the lack of oxygen caused me to fall asleep, and when I woke up in the morning, with the sun pouring in, the shadow man was gone! Or the entire episode was a dream that seemed so real.

Year’s later, as an adult, I read about the Shadow People, and now wonder if it had been real!

Ready for the recipe? I have perfected this recipe over the years trying to make it healthier (Hungarians cook with a lot of lard and although it is flavourful, it is definitely not good for you).

Healthy Chicken Paprikas

Ingredients:

  • 4 x 100g skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 roughly chopped medium sweet onion (I used vidalia)
  • 1 cup cubed celery root
  • 3 ripe red peppers
  • 2 tbsp Hungarian Sweet Papkria
  • 1-2 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup + 4 tbsp non fat Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream
  • 1 tsp flour
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. Roast the peppers in the oven until the skins are black. Set into a bowl with a plate covering it to allow the peppers to steam.
  2. Once peppers are cool enough to handle, peel the skins off.
  3. Purée the peppers using an immersion blender until smooth.
  4. In a large dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp oil and add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the Hungarian paprika, but be careful not to burn, this isn’t like Indian spices, paprika will burn quickly.
  5. To the onions, add the celery root and 1 cup chicken stock. Add the puréed roasted red peppers, and a little more chicken stock. Cook for 1/2 hour on medium heat, until the celery root is soft.
  6. Remove from the heat and purée until smooth. Pass through a fine seive.
  7. Before returning the sauce to the heat, add 1 tbsp oil to the dutch oven. Chop the chicken breasts into bite sized pieces and brown in the hot oil. Add the paprika sauce back into the pan with the chicken and cook for 1/2 hour on medium heat or until the chicken is cooked through. You can remove from the heat and freeze for future use, or use right away.
  8. Add 1 tsp flour to the yogurt and mix well (this will prevent the yogurt from separating when adding to the paprika sauce). Add the yogurt to the chicken paprikas and mix well.
  9. To serve, pour into a large decorative dish and drizzle with the remaining yogurt, garnish with flat leaf parsley.

Ingredients for the Nokedli (dumplings):

Hungarian Paprika and the Nokedli Szagato (dumpling tool)

General rule of thumb for this recipe is 1 cup flour and 1 egg per person. In my efforts to make this a healthier meal, I generally use 1 egg for the pot and 4 tbsp egg whites and 1/2 cup flour per person. The nokedli are lighter and not as yellow as using full eggs, but the flavour is still there. You make the nokedli by hand using a small cutting board and a knife and just cutting off small bits of the dough right into the boiling water (Hungarians call this Csipetke) or you can use a nokedli maker.

  • 2 cups flour (you can substitute whole wheat but it changes the texture a bit, so I would only recommend 1/4 cup ww and 1 3/4 white flour)
  • 1 egg
  • 12 tbsp egg whites
  • salt and pepper to taste

The dough should be loose enough to press through the Nokedli maker without much effort, but it should not be wet.

The dough should be loose enough to press through the Nokedli maker without much effort, but it should not be wet.

Directions:

  1. Beat egg and egg white until slightly frothy. Add salt and pepper.
  2. Mix in the flour until it form a soft dough (I usually do this in the food processor). Add little bits of water if necessary to make a loose pasta-like dough (don’t worry if it’s too thick, you can add bits of the hot water to it as you are pressing it through the nokedli press.
  3. In a large soup pot, boil water with salt.
  4. Once the water is on a hard boil, start making the nokedli. You can make the entire batch in this one pot, they won’t stick together if you stir them once in a while. When you are done they should all float to the top. Pour into a colander and rinse with cold water.
  5. Add the nokedli to a bowl and drizzle with oil so they don’t stick together.
  6. When ready to serve, heat 3 tbsp butter in a large dutch oven. Add nokedli and reheat, crisping up the edges a bit (we like them crisped).
  7. Serve family style in a large serving vessel.

Egéségedre! (to your health!)

 

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I blogged about this a couple of years ago for a Super bowl Party, but inadvertantly forgot to post the recipe, so here it is. Better late than never. The herbes en provence gave the wings a delicious flavour which paired very well with the blue cheese dip I previously made.

Herbes en Provence Chicken Wings

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup Herbs en Province
  • 3 tablespoons granulated garlic (this is so the mix remains a dry rub)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 chicken wings

Directions:

  1. Pre heat oven to 375°F
  2. Prepare a large cookie sheet by lining with parchment paper (fold down the raw ends so they don’t burn).
  3. Clean up chicken wings, removing the wing tip (discard), cutting the wing into two pieces.
  4. Rub olive oil all over each wing piece.
  5. Mix the Herbs en Province, granulated garlic, sea salt and Panko in a clean zip lock bag.
  6. Placing 4-6 wings into the baggy and shake until each wing is well coated.
  7. Continue until all the wings are coated. Lay each wing individually on the prepared cookie sheet so they don’t touch.
  8. Bake in a hot oven for 60 minutes or until wings are 165° F Internal temperature. Turn each wing so each side is crispy!

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Jt cooks dinner most week-nights because he works from home and has a bit more time than I do. I know I am very fortunate to have this, but I miss it particularly since The Big Reno 4+ years ago! He’s a great cook, and I keep telling him to start a “guy’s cooking class” — I mean his food is really good! JT whipped up this recipe last night. It was amazing. The flavours so fresh and creamy…I’m having left-overs as I type this — oh sorry, I dazed out for a second!

The original recipe is from Food Network US’s Tyler Florence, and is very good in its own right, but we made it a bit healthier, of course! I love this dish with either left over BBQ’d Chicken or Salmon. Both are extremely delicious! The photo is a little blurry, I took it with my lowly iPhone 3Gs, but you can see all the flavours (I tried to sharpen it up in Photoshop, it’s a wee bit better). This dish is very good either hot or cold.

JTs Mediterranean Chicken Pasta

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, julienne
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup Carnation Fat Free Evaporated Milk
  • 1 cup artichoke hearts in water, drained and quartered
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced into halves
  • 6 ounces goats milk feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Pasta (we like fussili with this dish) enough for 4 (we like to use Catelli Smart, which is high fibre but NOT whole wheat pasta)
  • 400 g left over BBQ’d chicken or Salmon, cut into small chunks

Directions:

  1. Boil water for pasta in a pasta pot, fitted with a strainer. Spray your skillet with non-stick spray. Add sun-dried tomatoes and garlic to skillet and sauté for 2 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, add the fresh pasta to boiling water, cook until al dente, about 5 minutes.
  3. Now add the artichoke hearts, and olives to the skillet. Saute 1 minute then stir in the Carnation Fat Free Evaporated Milk. When this has heated through, add the chicken or the salmon.
  4. Strain the pasta and transfer to a large pasta bowl. Add the chicken mixture to the pasta and toss. Season with oregano, fresh basil, salt and pepper, and then add the crumbled feta just before serving. We like the feta just a little melty, not too melted.

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The heat wave in Toronto continues and since we ate heavily on the weekend with our good friends Rae and Mon, tonight seemed like a good night for lighter fare: Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps. We use Boston Bibb or Butter Lettuce for the wraps, and ground turkey for the meat, the rest is what ever your heart desires. We adapted this recipe from Epicurious, click here for the original. Serves 4.

For the meat

  • 1 quick spray of Pam
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped finely
  • 400 g lean ground turkey
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp peanut sauce (you can use peanut butter, if you don’t have the sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

Garnish

  • 1 English cucumber, shreaded
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh thai basil
  • 1/3 cup green onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small jalopeño pepper, finely diced
  • 12 large butter lettuce leaves, cleaned and dried
  • Lime wedges

Dipping Sauce

  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tsp peanut butter or peanut sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar

Directions

  1. Heat a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat and spray with Pam. Add onion and sauté until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add turkey and sauté until brown and cooked through, breaking up with back of spoon, about 7 minutes. Add garlic.
  3. Add peanut sauce, hoisin sauce, and soy sauce; heat through. (Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Reheat in microwave or skillet, adding water by tablespoonfuls to moisten if necessary, before continuing.)
  4. Transfer turkey mixture to medium bowl. Serve with individual bowls of each of the garnishes.
  5. Make dipping sauce by mixing all three ingredients well.

To make wraps, spoon turkey mixture onto a lettuce leaf, add garnishes as desired, fold in sides over filling, and roll up. Either dip lettuce wrap into the dipping sauce, or spoon a little spoonful into onto the meat before rolling. Note: I usually mix the chopped cilantro, basil and mint all together. The green onion and jalopeño are also mixed in one bowl, as JT eats neither, but I love them! This dish is wonderful either hot or cold.

Dinner in our back yard.

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This is my lettuce wrap before I wrapped it! So tasty!

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