Monday, April 23, 2012

White Bean Chicken Chili


When I first saw the snow this morning I knew right away that dinner would be some sort of comfort food.  As much as my waistline needs the wonderful fresh veggies and low-fat foods that come along with summer, I always miss a bowl of warm flavourful chili. Although this one can't be all bad for you, chicken, beans, corn and spinach.  As long as you don't over indulge and keep in mind portion control you won't do to much damage.

The pictures came out really bad for this one,  I swear the photo doesn't do this recipe any justice. I especially love the combination of spices, cumin, fennel, oregano and chili powder. The smell traveled through the entire house. The hubby smelt it as he pulled into the driveway and right away asked about dinner. Which is funny because this morning when he asked what was for dinner and I replied Chicken Chili, a look of disappointment came across his face. I assure you that look was nowhere to be found while he chowed down a nice big bowl of this stuff.



White Bean and Chicken Chili

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 pounds ground chicken
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 (15-ounce cans) white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 lb baby spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper for seasoning
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese, your choice I used Monterey Jack
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions

1.      In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

2.     Add the ground chicken, 1 teaspoon salt, cumin, fennel seeds, oregano, and chili powder. Cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes.

3.     Stir the flour into the chicken mixture. Add the beans, spinach, corn, and chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a simmer, scraping up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.

4.     Simmer for one hour until the liquid has reduced by about half and the chili has thickened.

5.      Add the red pepper flakes and simmer for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

6.      Ladle the chili into serving bowls. Sprinkle with the cheese and chopped parsley.

ENJOY!!!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Caesar Style Kale Pesto Pasta

Wow, time flies!  I can’t believe it’s been so long since I last blogged.  Trust me, I haven’t forgotten about my blog.  I have been taking photos of lots of food and I am going to be on a mission to get all of it posted.  This was one that I have had on my mind for a couple of weeks because it was so delicious!   

I’ve been busy chasing after a very active 5 ½ month old and by the time bed time rolls around blogging is the last thing on my mind.  But today I’m lucky enough that she’s taking a good nap so I have time to get this one posted.   

The recipe comes from Rachael Ray.  I find when you make a pesto it can be hard to follow a recipe.  Your bunch of kale can be bigger or smaller than the recipe calls for so use your judgement.  You might need more or less garlic, oil or Parmesan for your liking.  Don’t be shy just do what feels right to get the consistency you’re looking for.  My pesto made enough to freeze half for later and I can’t wait to use it this summer with BBQ chicken or even a nice piece of grilled fish. 

My Mom and I enjoyed this on its own and we loved it!  Adding the starchy pasta water to help the pasta and pesto come together makes the dish creamy and smooth.  Be sure to toss the dish together for a good couple of minutes to make sure everything is well mixed.  And how can you go wrong with a healthy super food like kale. 


Caesar Style Kale Pesto Pasta

Ingredients

· 1 head garlic
· ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
· salt and pepper
· 1 pound spaghetti
· 1 bunch kale
· 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
· juice from 1 lemon
· 1 tbsp Dijon
· 1 tsp anchovy paste
· 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
· 3 tbsp pine nuts, toasted 

Directions

1.      Preheat oven to 400F.  Cut the end off the garlic bulb, exposing the tops of the cloves.  Place on a piece of foil and drizzle with oil, salt and pepper. Wrap the garlic up in the foil and roast for 45-50 minutes. Let cool, then squish out the garlic cloves from the skins into a food processor.

2.      While the garlic is roasting, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt it, add the spaghetti and cook to al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the starchy cooking water.

3.      Bring another large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and the kale and cook for about a minute; drain and squeeze dry.

4.      Add the kale, cheese, lemon juice, mustard, anchovy paste and Worcestershire sauce into a food processor with the garlic cloves and puree. Season with pepper. Add the pine nuts and about 1/4 cup of olive oil. Process, streaming in additional olive oil to form a thick pesto; season with salt.

5.      In a pasta bowl, combine the pasta, pesto and reserved pasta cooking water; toss to combine.   Serve with more cheese at the table.


ENJOY!




Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Cookies good enough to sell a house, Big Soft Ginger Cookies


I might have told this story before but I'm going to use it again.  When we sold our townhouse 3 years ago I made cookies for every open house and the couple that bought our house commented that the cookies definitely helped to make an impression because they were so delicious.  I bring that up with the hubby all the time, mostly to remind him of how lucky he is to have such a great wife:)

These cookies were great because the batter store easily in the refrigerator.  All you have to do is complete everything to the end of step 2 and toss them in the refrigerator.  I would bake up a dozen of them before visitors arrived and it left the house smelling great and there was a nice plate of cookies for people to enjoy while they checked out the house.

For the next couple of weeks my basement is getting worked on to repair the damages left from a flood last spring so I made these for the guys.  I hope they eat them all because I sure don't need the extra calories.  Today is day 2 of 12 weeks of training for the half marathon race weekend.  Tonight I'll be getting in my first outdoor run since late August. Should be interesting and cold, but warmer weather is in store so it will only get better from here.

The recipe comes from allrecipes.com, which I'm sure most of you know.  There is a lot of good stuff on that site if you haven't checked it out give it a try.  I get a lot of my cookie ideas from the site.

Big Soft Ginger Cookies

Ingredients
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup margarine, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
Directions       
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture. Shape dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly.
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Blueberry Breakfast Parfait


As part of my healthier eating I put together this delicious Blueberry Parfait for breakfast. I loved it and we had this for breakfast a couple of times this week. The hubby even said he would eat it again. Making this was a bit of a risk because I know he isn't a fan of crumble and yogurt but it worked out.


Hope you give it a try!


Blueberry Breakfast Parfait
makes 1 parfait


Ingredients
  • 1 cup vanilla flavoured Grec Yogurt
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, thawed
  • 1/2 cup Go Lean Crunch Kashi Cereal
  • 1 tsp flaxseed
  • 2 tsp honey
Directions
  1. In the bottom of a tall glass layer, 1/2 cup yogurt, 1/4 cup blueberries, 1/4 cup cereal, 1/2 tsp flaxseed and 1 tsp honey.
  2. Repeat another layer of each ingredient.
ENJOY!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Healthy Chicken Curry

Are you kidding me, 15cm of snow….grrr!  Our driveway had finally melted down to the pavement and I was getting out pretty often with the baby for walks in the nice warm weather.  Next week I start my 12 week training for the half marathon on race weekend and I was really hoping for clear paths and warm weather.  Hopefully there is some warm weather in store and we get rid of the snow sooner rather than later. 

As part of my training I’ll be adjusting my diet to get off the last of the baby weight.  Expect to see some healthier meals. This one comes out at 356 calories for 1 cup of rice and 1 cup of curry chicken mixture.  It’s amazing how much substituting low-fat and whole wheat can change the nutritional value in a meal.  I’ll admit that you do end up compromising on flavour.  The hubby made it very clear that it was good but he knew it was “healthy”.  I loved it, which I don’t often say after I’ve cooked, only because everything tastes better when someone else makes it.  At least it’s not salad.

The best part about this recipe is you’re really getting two recipes out of it.  I plan on making just the rice portion of the dish next time and adding the chicken straight into the rice.  That way you end up with a great one pot meal that is full of flavour and is super healthy.  Another thing I might change is to use pistachios instead of cashews and if it floats your boat you could even add some golden raisins.  The hubby isn’t a fan of raisins so I would steer clear but I think it would be delicious.  Here's a photo of the rice on it's own, mmmm!


Chicken Curry with Cucumber Rice

Ingredients

·         1 tbsp olive oil
·         1 tsp mustard seeds
·         1 tsp cumin seeds
·         4 cloves garlic, minced
·         1 red pepper, half diced and half sliced
·         2 large yellow onions, diced, divided
·         1 cup brown rice
·         1 tsp ground turmeric
·         1 cup low sodium chicken broth
·         ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
·         ½ English cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
·         Zest from 1 lemon
·         ¼ tsp salt and pepper
·         2 tbsp roasted cashews, crushed
·         1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes
·         1 large carrot, peeled and cut into small dice
·         1 small head of cauliflower florets, cut into small pieces
·         2 tsp ginger, minced
·         1 tbsp whole wheat flour
·         4 tsp curry powder
·         1 can low fat coconut milk
·         Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Directions

1.    In a large saucepan, heat 2 tsp oil over medium high heat.  Add mustard and cumin seeds and toast, stirring constantly for 2 to 3 minutes until seeds are fragrant and begin to pop.  Add garlic, diced bell pepper and half of the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until onion is soft and translucent.

2.   To saucepan, add rice and turmeric and stir to coat.  Cook for 2 minutes, until slightly toasted.  Stir in 1 cup broth, 1 cup water and red pepper flakes.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 40 minutes until rice is tender. (my rice took a little longer, you will know when it’s ready)  Add cucumber, zest, salt and pepper and stir to combine.  Remove from heat and sprinkle with cashews, cover to keep warm.

3.   Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat remaining 1 tsp oil on medium-high. Add chicken and sauté, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes.  Transfer to a large plate and set aside.

4.   Add carrot, cauliflower, sliced red pepper, ginger and remaining half of onion to skillet.  Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 6 minutes, until vegetables are tender.  Add water 1 tbsp at a time if skillet gets to dry and vegetables begin to brown too much.  Add flour and cook, stirring to prevent clumping, for about 3 minutes.  Return chicken to skillet.  Add curry powder, 1 cup of water and coconut milk.  Stir constantly and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, about 8 minutes.  Spoon rice onto serving plate and top with curry chicken.  Garnish with cilantro and serve.

ENJOY!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mumbo Gumbo


Since our lives were turned completely upside down by our 9 lbs 13 oz bundle of joy the hubby and I have found ourselves enjoying the most unusual things.  Tonight after the baby went to bed we sat in front of the computer watching videos of her going swimming, laughing and rolling around on the floor.  We had the biggest smiles on our faces watching them as if we hadn't seen her in days, she had only gone to bed 2 hours ago.  I wonder what insignificant thing we would have been doing if she wasn't around. Life just seems to have so much more meaning now.  Actually, I know what we would have been doing instead, watching video's of our dog:)  Which isn't so bad, just not nearly as cute.


I made this delicious gumbo on Tuesday to celebrate Mardis Gras. I know that on pancake Tuesday you're supposed to make pancakes but I didn't, maybe I'll make pancakes this weekend.  I'm not sure that I know what a great gumbo tastes like but I do know that I enjoyed this meal and the recipe was called gumbo.  I found the recipe on the Fine Cooking website, it took a lot of time and had a fair amount of ingredients.  I was only able to find enough time to make it because my Mom was around to help out with the little one. 
Gumbo Ya Ya
From, Fine Cooking Magazine

Ingredients

·         3 Tbs. plus 3/4 cup vegetable oil

·         2-1/2 lb. skinless chicken thighs, preferably bone-in

·         Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

·         1 cup all-purpose flour

·         1 medium bunch celery, thinly sliced

·         4 large onions, diced

·         4 green or red bell peppers, diced

·         2 Tbs. minced garlic

·         1/2 to 1 tsp. cayenne or 5 fresh cayenne peppers, diced

·         3/4 tsp. dried oregano

·         3/4 tsp. dried basil

·         3/4 tsp. dried thyme

·         4 bay leaves

·         8 cups homemade or lower-salt chicken broth or water

·         1-1/2 lb. andouille sausage or other spicy smoked sausage, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

·         1 Tbs. filé powder

·         cooked white rice

 Directions

1.       In a heavy-based soup pot, heat 3 Tbs. of the oil over high heat until almost smoking. While the oil is heating, season the chicken generously with salt and pepper, dust it with 1/4 cup of the flour, and shake off the excess. Sear the chicken in the hot oil until golden brown, turning once to brown both sides, 4 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken and set aside.

2.       Let the oil reheat for a minute and then reduce the heat to medium high and add the celery, onions, and peppers and cook until soft, 10 to 12 minutes, stirring to prevent scorching. Remove the vegetables and any liquid from the pan and set aside. Add 3/4 cup oil to the pot and let it heat up for a minute over medium heat. Slowly add the remaining flour to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is the color of chocolate, 10 to 20 minutes. Stir carefully, being sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the pot to prevent scorching. Pay attention not to burn the roux; if you do burn it, you’ll have to start over.

3.      When the roux has reached a good mahogany brown, return the cooked vegetables to the pot, along with the garlic, cayenne, oregano, basil, thyme, and bay leaves. Stir to scrape the bottom of the pot and cook until well combined, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

4.       Slowly add the broth while stirring until smoothly blended. Add the chicken and the sausage. Bring to a simmer and skim off excess fat. Simmer uncovered, skimming any foam or fat that rises to the surface, until the chicken meat is so tender that it falls easily from the bones, about 2 hours (begin checking earlier). Remove the bones from the pot and discard.

5.      Return the soup to a boil and stir in the filé powder, stirring vigorously to avoid clumping, until the filé powder is dissolved. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as necessary. Serve the gumbo in bowls over the cooked white rice.
ENJOY!

Friday, February 10, 2012

I'M BACK! DIDN`T YA MISS ME?


I'm not sure what brought this on but this morning I woke up with the erg to blog.  Months ago when I stopped posting I was about 5 months pregnant and blogging was starting to feel like a chore.  So I stopped.  If I wasn't enjoying it then why continue. 

Today, life has changed just a little:)  My little girl is 3 months old and life as a new Mom is starting to settle in.  I am getting back into the kitchen and my cooking definitely has a different approach these days.  Everything takes a more organization and usually has to easily revolve around the babies nap time.

The dish that I am starting of with might not seem like a good dish for moms but it works for me because I am home on maternity leave and the work involved can easily be broken up into a couple of stages.  It might not make a great weeknight dish but definitely a great weekend meal, especially if you have a lot going on.  You can start it off in the morning and about an hour before dinner you can finish everything off.

In the morning I packed up the little one and headed out to the grocery store.  Came home and threw the pork shoulder into the oven.  In just 4-5 hours it got so juicy and shredded apart with little effort.  You could just make the pork and toss the meat on a bun, I would have been more than happy with that.  Around 4pm we tossed all of the stew ingredients into a pot and let them hang out for an hour or so.  Dinner was ready in time for when the hubby came home and we ate while the baby had her last nap of the day.  Man, you'd think I knew what I was doing or something, trust me not all days work out as good as today did.

This recipe comes from The Rachael Ray Show.  I almost hate to admit that because most of the time she annoys me.  I can't say that I have ever completely followed one of her recipes, I always modify it to my liking.  That's exactly what I did with this one.  I hope you give it a try.

Mexican Pulled Pork Stew

Ingredients

·  1 2- to 3-pound boneless pork shoulder
·  salt and black pepper
·  1 tablespoon smoked paprika
·  2 teaspoons oregano, divided
·  1 teaspoon fennel seed
·  1 teaspoon granulated garlic
·  2 onions, 1 thinly sliced and 1 chopped
·  2 bottle of beer, I used Corona
·  1/4 cup oil
·  4 cloves of garlic, minced
·  1 tablespoon cumin
·  tablespoon ground coriander
·  3 14-ounce cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
·  1 quart chicken stock
·  1 can corn
·  1 can Romano beans
·  Shredded cheddar cheese for topping
Directions

1.    Bring meat to room temp and preheat oven to 300ºF.
2.   Season the meat with salt and pepper. Combine the paprika with 1 teaspoon oregano with fennel and granulated garlic. Rub spices into meat.
3.   Place pork in a roasting pan, top with sliced onion. Add beer to pan and cover. Roast pork 4-5 hours until very tender.  Shred with two forks.
4.   Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat with oil. Add chopped onions and sliced garlic to pan and season with salt and pepper, remaining teaspoon Mexican oregano, cumin and coriander. Process tomatoes with a hand blender until smooth. Add stock, tomatoes, corn and beans to the pot.  Add the shredded pork and reserved pan juices. Simmer to thicken and combine flavors, 30-40 minutes
5.   Serve the soup with shredded cheddar cheese.

ENJOY!