Saturday, March 31, 2007

Lamb and Black Bean Chili

Marc and I are on this Mexican binge these days - as you've probably noticed, I'm sure!!! We love lamb and we love chili so I definitely wanted to try this!

I really tried to resist making changes but I just can't help it! At first I only made these changes; 2 cans of black beans instead of 3 (went with the reviews on CL's website) and 2 cans (28 oz.) of diced tomatoes. But after tasting the chili half way through simmering it was too bland for me so I added; 2 tsp. of crushed chilies, an extra tablespoon of chili powder, 1 tsp. celery salt, and 1 tsp. celery seed. I also simmered for 1 hour covered and 1 hour uncovered, then I followed the rest of the recipe.

This was very yummy! Spicy but not too spicy, lots of depth of flavor, and great combination of flavors. I am definitely keeping this recipe and adding to my recipe rotation! Next time I might try to sub ground beef for half the lamb and I'll definitely make corn bread to go with it!

Lamb-and-Black Bean Chili
Cooking Light

1 1/2 pounds lean ground lamb
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans no-salt-added whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped
1 cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
Cilantro sprigs (optional)

Combine first 3 ingredients in a Dutch oven; cook over medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Drain in a colander; pat dry with paper towels. Wipe drippings from pan with a paper towel; return mixture to pan.

Add tomatoes and next 6 ingredients (tomatoes through salt); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 2 hours; stir occasionally. Stir in beans and hot sauce. Cover; simmer 30 minutes. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired. Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

NUTRITION PER SERVINGCALORIES 293(22% from fat); FAT 7.2g (sat 2.4g,mono 2.8g,poly 0.8g); PROTEIN 28.5g; CHOLESTEROL 61mg; CALCIUM 90mg; SODIUM 400mg; FIBER 4.6g; IRON 4.3mg; CARBOHYDRATE 29.9g

Friday, March 30, 2007

Beef Tacos

I wanted to make tacos this week but I'm allergic to MSG so I had to find a recipe for a Taco Mix that I could make on my own. During my search I fell upon this recipe on the message boards with very good reviews.

Here are my changes to the recipe - I added 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, 1/4 tsp of ground pepper, and substituted celery salt for the regular salt - about 1/4 tsp. We skipped the step about frying the tortillas in the oil since we had already bought the flat bottom tacos.

This recipe is amazing! It rivals our chicken enchiladas! It was spicy (but not too spicy - just enough for us), full of flavour, and super delicious!

We bought the premade flat bottom tacos to eat them with but I had forgotten that I had bought the taco bowl molds which I haven't used yet. I would probably make it this way next time so I can use whole wheat tortillas instead of the fried pre-made ones - much healthier! Reading the other reviews I might even try to sub half the ground beef for chorizo next time.

Beef Tacos
Cook's Illustrated

2 teaspoons corn or vegetable oil
1 small onion -- chopped
3 cloves garlic -- minced
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander (I didn't have this)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound ground beef -- 90% lean
1/2 cup canned tomato sauce
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
8 6 inch corn tortilla
3/4 cup vegetable oil

shredded cheese
shredded iceberg lettuce
chopped tomato
chopped onion
sliced avocado

Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, spices, and 1/2 tsp salt; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add ground beef and cook, breaking up meat, until no longer pink. Add tomato sauce, broth, brown sugar, and vinegar; bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, until liquid has reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes.

While meat is cooking, prepare the taco shells.

Heat 3/4 cup oil in a small skillet over medium heat tp 350 degrees (about 5 minutes; oil should bubble when a small piece of tortilla is dropped in). Line rimmed baking sheet with double thickness paper towels.

Prepare one tortilla at a time. Using tongs to hold tortilla, slip half of tortilla into hot oil. With metal spatula in other hand, keep half of tortilla submerged in oil for 30 seconds (should be just set but not browned). Flip tortilla so the uncooked half is submerged in oil. Hold down with metal spatula, use tongs to retain shell shape. Fry until golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes. Flip back to other side and fry again until golden brown. Transfer shell upside-down to paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

Fill shells with meat mixture, and top as desired.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Chicken Scampi

No, there is no scampi in this dish, or any shellfish of any kind, for that matter! This dish is called Chicken Scampi because you cook the chicken like you would scampi, in a sauce with garlic, butter, white wine, etc. Of course, this recipe has less fat than the regular recipes!

After reading the reviews, I decided to take the chicken out of the sauce after 10 minutes and kept it warm while I thickened the sauce (I cranked up the heat to medium-high so the sauce could thicken faster, another 10 minutes). I also used 2 eggs instead of the egg substitute and I dredged the chicken in flour before the eggs. I also didn't have any Mrs. Dash so I substituted Italian seasoning.

This was super yummy - we didn't even miss the real thing!

Chicken Scampi
Cooking Light

1 pound skinned, boned chicken breasts, cut into1-inch-wide strips
1/4 cup egg substitute
1/3 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons butter or stick margarine
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2/3 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh or 1-1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons salt-free seasoning (such as Mrs. Dash)
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups hot cooked linguine (about 6 ounces uncooked pasta)
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

1. Dip chicken in egg substitute; dredge in breadcrumbs.

2. Place a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat until hot. Add chicken, and saute for 6 minutes or until browned. Remove chicken from pan.

3. Melt butter in pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, and saute 1 minute. Add broth and the next 5 ingredients (broth through salt), and bring to a boil. Add the chicken; reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. Place 3/4 cup pasta on each of 4 plates; top each serving with 3/4 cup chicken mixture, and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cheese. Yield: 4 servings.

CALORIES 419 (22% from fat); FAT 10.2g (sat 5.3g, mono 2.8g, poly 1g); PROTEIN 37.6g; CARB 41.9g; FIBER 1.2g; CHOL 86mg; IRON 3.3mg; SODIUM 721mg; CALC 129mg

Monday, March 26, 2007

My Mom's Meat Loaf

I spent a couple of hours this afternoon purging recipes in my binders and I came across this recipe for my mom's meat loaf. Since Marc and I moved in together, we haven't had this and I know Marc loves meat loaf so, that was that! Marc made his famous mashed potatoes to go with it!

My mom gave me this recipe from memory and I remember her making this by eye so I knew some adjustments might need to be made for the next time. It was really really yummy, as usual, but it needs more bread crumbs because it fell apart when we sliced it. It was still delicious though!

My Mom's Meatloaf

2 lbs lean ground beef
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 egg
3 cloves garlic, minced or 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup onion
1/4 tsp Tabasco

Preheat oven to 350°

Mix altogether and transfer to a greased 8X4" loaf pan. Bake for one hour.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Super Food: Chocolate

What is it about chocolate that makes us, particularly women, become chocoholics? There are many many chemical compounds at work, over 300, that make chocolate highly addictive. For one thing, chocolate contains caffeine and sugar, both logical culprits. There is also the “love chemical” that makes chocolate an aphrodisiac, Phenylethylamine, which releases dopamine in the pleasure center of the brain stimulating feelings of attraction, excitement, giddiness, and euphoria. Chocolate also contains a neurotransmitter, Serotonin, that acts as an anti-depressant. Other substances, such as Theobromine and Anandamide, have a stimulating effect. And, like other palatable sweet foods, consumption of chocolate triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural opiates. Enhanced endorphin-release reduces the chocolate-eater's sensitivity to pain.

Chocolate, particularly dark chocolate and cocoa, have been also been found to help:

  • Fight tooth decay (Of course, this is counteracted by the high sugar content of milk chocolate).
  • Raise good cholesterol.
  • Keep blood vessels elastic and improves circulation.
  • Decrease blood pressure.
  • Increases antioxidant levels in the blood.
  • Metabolise sugar - a problem for people with diabetes.
  • Lower the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
  • Improve digestion and stimulate kidneys.

Next week's topic: Cinnamon...

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Super Food: Chilies

They make us sweat, our eyes water, our noses run, and our tongues burn yet we still come back for more! Scientists now know that chilies have an addictive hold on us because of an opiate-like endorphin that is released by the brain to counteract the initial physical pain caused by Capsaicin, a chemical compound that produces the sensation of burning. This "endorphin rush" is why so many of us LOVE spicy food!

Chili peppers have been also been found to help:
  • Clear congestion
  • Boost immunity by providing about 6% of the daily value for vitamin C and more than 10% of the daily value for vitamin A. Also has a high content of beta-carotene.
  • Prevent stomach ulcers by killing bacteria
  • Help with weight loss - increases thermogenesis (heat production) and oxygen consumption therefore helping you burn more calories
  • Reduce blood cholesterol, triglyceride levels and platelet aggregation
  • Prevent some cancers and prevents the spread of cancer
  • Relieve pain
  • Fights inflammation
  • Lower your risk of type-2 diabetes

Broccoli Stuffed Shells & Chocolate Banana Cake

Marc and I invited my mom and stepdad over for supper tonight - we're celebrating! My stepdad, Nick, finally got his residency in Canada! It's a surprise, shhhhh......

A celebration calls for a cake!! Since he LOVES bananas I thought I would make the chocolate banana cake my sister is always raving about. I've had it once or twice before - I remember it was a lot of work so I decided that I would only make the cake part and make my mom's icing recipe. It was quick and easy to put together. I got to taste the cake part after I baked it since I had to slice off the part that was rounded - super moist and delicious - just how I remembered it! The icing is always amazing and I cheated and dipped some of the cake in the icing - DELISH! Like the original recipe, I also added sliced bananas in between the 2 layers of cake.

For the main course it had to be pasta! I had raved so much about the broccoli stuffed shells I made awhile back that I had to promise my mom that I would make it for them the next time they were over - as good a time as any! Besides all the changes I made the first time I added a few extra ingredients; I added about 8 slices of pancetta that I sauteed until golden brown and crispy and a handful of chopped sun-dried tomatoes. I sneaked a taste of the ricotta/broccoli mixture - OH MY GOD, DELICIOUS!

It's going to be a yummy night!

Chocolate Banana Cake
By The Canadian Living Test Kitchen (Modified)
Original recipe here

2 bananas, sliced

3/4 cup (175 mL) butter, softened
1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
3 eggs
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) vanilla
1/2 cup (125 mL) sour cream
3 cups (750 mL) sifted cake-and-pastry flour
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) baking soda
1-1/2 cup (375 mL) chopped, smashed bananas

My Mom's Icing:
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup Cocoa
2 cups icing sugar
2 tbsp hot water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tub cream cheese

In bowl, cream butter with sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then vanilla. Beat in sour cream.Combine flour, baking soda and chocolate; add in 3 additions to creamed mixture alternately with 2 additions of bananas, mixing just until flour is incorporated.Spoon into 2 greased 8-1/2-inch (2.25 L) spring form pans, smoothing tops. Bake in 350F (180C) oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until tops spring back when touched. Let cool on rack for 20 minutes. Remove sides of pans; let cool completely.

In a mixer mix butter and cocoa on low speed (it will take quite awhile for it to blend but suddenly it comes together, 30 secs about...hang in there). Add vanilla and water. Then add one cup icing sugar at a time until well blended (it takes awhile here too). Add cream cheese and beat until smooth.

Broccoli & Four-Cheese Stuffed Shells

1 box jumbo shell pasta (~ 40 shells)
8 slices pancetta, chopped
1 (15-ounce) carton ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated fresh Romano cheese
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Egg, beaten
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
2-3 cups of broccoli florets steamed and mashed
6 cups of your favourite tomato sauce ( I used my mom's rigatoni sauce without the meat)
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/8 cup grated fresh provolone (hard) cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, saute pancetta until golden brown and crispy. Transfer to paper towels to absorb access oil.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine ricotta, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, egg, sun dried tomatoes, and mashed broccoli in a medium size bowl. Mix well.

In a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coat bottom with 3 cups sauce.Spoon or pipe broccoli/cheese mixture into each shell. Arrange stuffed shells, seam sides up, in prepared dish. Pour remaining sauce over stuffed shells. Sprinkle with mozzarella and provolone.

Cover with foil. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Potato and Onion Frittata

Breakfast for dinner, what a concept! Another winner from Everyday Food: Great Foods Fast!

It needs some adjustments but a very good start. I used Italian seasoning instead of the parsley since I didn't have any. We sauteed 3/4 of a package of mushrooms and added to the pan right before the eggs. I also added 2 cloves of garlic with the onions and potatoes and sprinkled some Parmesan cheese on the top while the eggs were setting. It's still missing a little something so next time I might add some pancetta or prosciutto. I also used a pan that wasn't non-stick - bad idea since the eggs stuck to the bottom - so next time I will definitely use non-stick.

Potato and Onion Frittata
Everyday Food

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 (8 ounces) baking potato, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 Teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
Coarse salt and ground pepper
5 large eggs
5 large egg whites
1/2 Cup whole flat-leaf parsley leaves

1. In a medium (10-inch) nonstick broiler proof skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add onion, potato, and rosemary; season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine.

2. Cover skillet, and cook 10 minutes; uncover. Cook, tossing mixture occasionally, until onion and potato are tender, about 5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, egg whites, parsley leaves, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

4. Heat broiler with rack set 4 inches from heat. Add remaining tablespoon oil to vegetables in skillet. Pour egg mixture into skillet.

5. Cook on stove, over low heat, lifting mixture a few times around the edges with a spatula to let egg flow underneath. Continue cooking until frittata is almost set in center, about 10 minutes.

6. Place skillet under broiler; broil until frittata is set and top is lightly golden, about 3 minutes. Run a clean spatula around edges to loosen, then slide frittata out onto a serving plate, and cut into wedges.

Super Foods...

It is common knowledge that garlic reduces cholesterol, pomegranates have super antioxidants, cinnamon reduces blood sugar in type-2 diabetes, and lycopene (tomatoes) reduces the risk of prostate cancer. But...did you ever wonder what the health benefits were from other foods we eat every day? I do - all the time!

Not only am I passionate about food but nutrition has always interested me. I want to know what I'm eating, why it's good for me, what should I eat more of....

So I have decided to make it my personal crusade to research the different foods that we love to eat and make a weekly posting on my blog.

My first posting will be about Chiles and Chocolate since they are what I love and try to eat most often! Check back often to see the latest super foods I have chosen (and suggestions are certainly welcome!)....

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

New Mexican Red Chile Sauce - Perfected!

Marc and I absolutely loved this recipe the first time we tried it but I always seem to find the need to tweak even my favourite recipes. Marc and I agreed that this is the best red enchilada sauce we've ever had, the restaurant versions we've had don't even compare anymore! It makes enough for 2 enchilada recipes so we use half and freeze the rest for the next time.

Many would argue that it isn't a TRUE enchilada sauce. I totally agree! A true enchilada sauce consists of soaking whole dried chilies (ancho, pasilla or guajillo) in boiling chicken stock or water so they become rehydrated and then pureeing until smooth (you can toast the dried chilies beforehand too for more flavour). But...a tomato based sauce serves it's purpose for us - we always have the ingredients on hand and it's super easy and fast to make. Also, depending on where you live (like us, in Montreal) we have very seasonal access to dried chilies and when we do they are exorbitantly priced! This way is just as delicious!

Making enchiladas is easy...we buy a small pre-cooked BBQ chicken at the grocery store, remove skin, and shred the breast meat. Spread 1 cup sauce over bottom of an 11 x 7-inch baking dish. Fill tortillas with shredded chicken and shredded cheese (Jalapeño Monterey Jack is our favourite). Roll and place in baking dish seam side down. Repeat until baking dish is full. Top with 1-2 cups sauce and then with a thin layer of shredded cheese. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes. If you made the sauce in advance, add 10 minutes to your baking time.

New Mexican Red Chile Sauce
Cooking Light (Modified) - Original recipe here

1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
2 garlic clove, minced
1 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz.)
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed chilies
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (14.5 oz.) can fat-free low-sodium chicken broth

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes. Add chili powder and garlic; sauté 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.

My 43 Things....

I came across this website today and it inspired me to write down my short and long term goals. Of course, some will change along the way, which is normal, and some will vanish from the list altogether...priorities change, life changes, dreams change, goals change, people change. These are my goals for right now, in no particular order....

  1. Spend more time with friends
  2. Spend more time with family
  3. Take more pictures
  4. Become more fluent in French
  5. Learn Spanish
  6. Learn Italian
  7. Visit Australia
  8. Visit Spain
  9. Visit Costa Rica
  10. Visit Italy
  11. Go back to St-Lucia
  12. Go back to Hawaii
  13. Ski more
  14. Do more Yoga
  15. Read more books
  16. Read more in French
  17. Pay off debts
  18. Finish renovating our house
  19. Adopt another puppy
  20. Volunteer
  21. Become an environmental and/or animal activist
  22. Make time for church
  23. Try new foods
  24. Bake more desserts
  25. Have a baby
  26. Find balance in my life
  27. Keep the house cleaner
  28. Hold a Koala
  29. Swim with dolphins
  30. Go back to school
  31. Go skiing at Banff
  32. Visit Brazil
  33. Visit the Grand Canyon
  34. Visit San Francisco
  35. Visit Paris
  36. Visit Prague
  37. Buy/build a house in the country
  38. Learn how to salsa
  39. Go on more dates with my husband
  40. Donate to charities
  41. Give blood
  42. Make more time for myself
  43. Get my driver's license
  44. Buy a new car
  45. Learn more about nutrition
  46. Take baking/cooking classes
  47. Visit Macchu Picchu

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Alysha's Marinara Magnifica

Every disloyalty is wrong but worse is cheating on your mom with another tomato sauce! Especially when your stepdad is Italian, Sicilian no less, and you grew up in an Italian neighborhood and your family is practically assimilated! An Italian woman's tomato sauce is her legacy to be passed on and made by her children! I have disgraced the family...I will live in shame...

Okay so I exaggerated just a little bit....I had you going didn't I....

I LOVE my mom's tomato sauce - especially with meatballs and flax spaghetti! When I was living at home, we had it for lunch almost every Sunday for as long as I can remember. There is no other tomato sauce for me but I was itching to try something new. I thought, if I'm going to cheat better make it good! I came across Alysha's tomato sauce on the message boards and again on her blog. It has gotten rave reviews and landed her in the magazine Cooking Light so I decided to give it a try.

After simmering for 4 hours it was thick, earthy, and sweet. Very different from what I'm used to but good just the same. We served it over mushroom ravioli. While it's a little too sweet for our taste, this would make an excellent pizza sauce and I intend to make it again for just that!

Alysha's Marinara Magnifica

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar (if you don't like a sweet sauce, you can skip this part - the onions will still caramelize nicely)
3-4 medium onions, chopped
~1 cup cup dry red wine*see notes below
6 cloves garlic, crushed with the blade of a knife
2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon thyme
2 bay leaves
pinch of crushed red pepper or more to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Heat oil in a Dutch Oven over medium heat. Add chopped onions and 1 tablespoon sugar. Sauté onions for 30-45 minutes, or until sweet and caramelized. As the pan dries while onions are cooking, add red wine as needed. Once onions are done, continue to add the rest of the ingredients. Stir until well-combined. Simmer over low heat for 4-6 hours (you can simmer for less, but I would simmer for at least 1-2 hours). Stir often to keep the sauce from burning or getting overcooked. If you like your suace chunky, leave it as is. However, I like mine smooth, so I use my immersion blender to puree the sauce and make it smooth.

Makes about 9 cups of sauce.

*wine note: I use one of those little 4-pack bottles of wine. I use a bit during the caramelization of the onions if the pan begins to get too dry and then I dump the rest in later.

More notes: This sauce is meant to be very basic so that you can use it as a base for many, many things. Add more crushed red pepper for a spicy sauce. Add more dried herbs or fresh herbs for a zestier sauce. Add a splash of balsamic, and on and on.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Marc's Pâté Chinois (Shepherd's Pie)

Pâté chinois ("Chinese pie") is French Canadian comfort food at it's best! It is quite similiar to Shepherd's Pie. There are many variations on the recipe but it is usually made with layers of seasoned ground beef, creamed corn, and mashed potatoes. There are a few theories as to where this dish got it's name. Some would say it was when Quebecers went to work in the mills in China, Maine. Others say the recipe got it's name when Quebecer railway workers were fed by Chinese cooks while the North American railways were being built in the early 1900's. We'll never know for sure but that's okay with me. However it got it's name, it's delicious just the same!

Marc gets full credit for this recipe! I had no input whatsoever! He's been perfecting this recipe for over a year now and this is the final version. He didn't have his recipe written down but after picking his brain while we were having dinner tonight, we came up with the approximate measures. It's really hard to screw up this recipe anyways and the amounts are only suggestions.

Marc's Pâté Chinois (Shepherd's Pie)

Mashed Potatoes:
8-10 medium potatoes
1/4 cup dehydrated chicken broth powder (optional) *See Note
2 tbsp butter
1/4-1/3 cup milk
1/3 large white onion, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

1 (8 ounce) package of sliced white mushrooms
1 garlic clove, minced

Ground Beef:
1 1/2 - 2 lb. lean ground beef (or any combination of veal, beef, and lamb)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tbsp concentrated beef bouillon (like Bovril) (Optional) **See Note

2 cans creamed corn

1. To make the mashed potatoes; boil the potatoes with the bouillon powder until tender (about 20 minutes). In a medium bowl, mash potatoes with butter, milk, garlic, onion, salt and pepper. Set aside.

2. To make the mushrooms; Sauté garlic over medium heat for one minute. Add sliced mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms release their liquid. Drain and set aside.

3. To make the ground beef; Sauté ground beef and garlic over medium heat until meat is browned. While sautéing, sprinkle the meat with garlic powder and concentrated beef bouillon.

4. To assemble; Spread creamed corn on the bottom of 11 x 7-inch baking dish. Top with meat mixture. Top with mushrooms. Top with mashed potatoes. Sprinkle with paprika.

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until bubbling. Broil on low for 5 minutes or until potatoes are lightly browned.

Serve with ketchup or tomato chow-chow.

*Note: For the bouillon powder use Loney's brand or Knorr cubes
**Note: If you can't find Bovril you can use the liquid Beef OXO or worst case, Worcestershire

Fig, Date, and Walnut Quick Bread

It all started with the banana bread I made this week and now I'm on a quick-bread baking binge! I thought this one had potential because it is low in fat, plenty of potassium, has nuts, some whole wheat flour, and dried fruits - especially figs which is what first caught my attention! I love figs! When they are in season they sell them fresh by the case at the Italian grocery stores - I could eat the whole case by myself in 2 days flat! I never had dried figs before but I like fig newton cookies so I figured I would probably like them in this recipe.

For the changes - I didn't bother with the first step. I simply chopped up the figs and dates and added them to the dry ingredients. The walnuts too. After souring the milk I added directly to the egg/sugar mixture. Next time I think I might add some ground flax seed to the recipe to make this even better for us!

We just tried it! Yummmmm! Warm from the oven with a bit of butter...I'm in heaven!

Fig, Date, and Walnut Quick Bread
Cooking Light

Dried fruits like figs and dates are good sources of potassium and fiber. Here they're paired with heart-healthy walnuts and a mixture of whole wheat and white flours. One slice of this sweet, rich bread adds a generous 227 milligrams of potassium to your daily tally.

3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2/3 cup chopped dried figs
1/3 cup chopped pitted dates
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 large eggs
3/4 cup whole wheat flour (about 3 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (about 3 1/3 ounces)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°.

Heat first 4 ingredients in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat just until bubbles begin to form around edge (do not boil). Remove from heat; stir in figs and dates. Let stand 20 minutes or until fruit softens.

Combine sugar, oil, and eggs in a large bowl; stir with a whisk until well blended. Stir in cooled milk mixture.

Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture. Add milk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Spoon batter into an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray.

Sprinkle walnuts evenly over batter. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on a wire rack. Yield: 12 servings (serving size: 1 slice)

NUTRITION PER SERVINGCALORIES 192(27% from fat); FAT 5.8g (sat 0.8g,mono 2g,poly 2.5g); PROTEIN 4.4g; CHOLESTEROL 36mg; CALCIUM 55mg; SODIUM 216mg; FIBER 2.9g; IRON 1.4mg; CARBOHYDRATE 32.5g

Saturday, March 17, 2007

No-Bake Cream Cheese Key Lime Pie

Happy St-Patrick's Day!

Tonight we're going over to our friends' Ida and Max to help them pack! It is tradition - I ALWAYS bring dessert! Ida is a great cook so it's not because I don't trust her baking but she knows how much I LOVE baking so she lets me bring my experiments! I don't think they mind at all being my test-tasters though!

For a change, I thought I'd make a key lime pie of some sort. So I went to the Kermit's Key West Key Lime Shoppe website - the company I buy my key lime juice from since it is impossible to find in Montreal - and as I was browsing the recipes, I came across this recipe for a no-bake cream cheese key lime pie. Plus it was fitting that it was something green for St-Patrick's day....Sold!

Not only was it incredibly easy to make - less than 10 minutes - I tasted the batter and it tastes EXACTLY like the pies we used to buy at our grocery store that are only available in the summer! We were addicted to these last summer and we must have picked up at least one every week! Now I can make it all year 'round and save money too!

Of course I made a couple minor changes. I used fat-free sweetened condensed milk, reduced fat cream cheese, and a pre-made graham cracker crust! Can't wait to have a piece tonight - I know it's going to be delicious!

Cream Cheese Key Lime Pie
Kermit's Key West Key Lime Shoppe
From the kitchen of Gail Brown

Serves 8

This simple recipe makes a 9-inch pie and requires no baking.

9-inch graham cracker pie crust
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup, plus 2 Tablespoons of Kermit’s Key Lime juice
8-ounce package of softened cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine milk, juice, and cream cheese in a mixer for 5 to 6 minutes.Pour mixture into graham cracker pie crust. Refrigerate until firm.

Serving Suggestions:
Serve chilled Cream Cheese Key Lime Pie plain or with whipped cream topping. For an interesting variation, drizzle chocolate sauce, mango sauce, and/or raspberry sauce over a slice of Key Lime pie. The complimentary flavors are sure to please.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Mini Greek Lamb Burgers

Another recipe from my new cookbook - Great Food Fast from Everyday Food Magazine! Marc and I don't eat lamb very often but we absolutely love it!!!! So much in fact that we spent almost all our money so we could have it on our menu for our wedding! We also love tzatziki so this seemed like the perfect splurge for us for a friday night - Marc even went to the butcher to get the ground lamb without much of a fuss! If I'm feeling adventurous in the next few weeks I might try to make a rack of lamb...

This was really REALLY good but, of course, I knew it would be! It was ridiculously easy to put together and really delicious! I made a few changes (what else is new?!). I added a garlic clove, an egg and about 1/4 cup of italian bread crumbs to the lamb burgers. And I didn't have any mint so I left it out of the tzatziki. The recipe made alot of lamb burgers so we freezed the uncooked patties for another time!

Mini Greek Lamb Burger
Martha Stewart - Everyday Food

Serving: Serves 4

1/2 English cucumber, peeled, seeded, and grated (3/4 cup)
1/2 Cup plain yogurt, preferably whole milk yogurt
2 Teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 Teaspoons chopped fresh mint
1 small garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 Pounds ground lamb
1/2 small onion, minced (1/4 cup)
1/4 Cup chopped fresh parsley
2 Teaspoons chopped fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried
Salt and pepper
4 pita breads, (6-inch)
Iceberg lettuce, for serving
2 medium beefsteak tomatoes, sliced, for serving

1. Heat grill or grill pan to high. Make tzatziki: In a medium bowl, combine cucumber, yogurt, lemon juice, mint and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Make burgers: In a medium bowl, use a fork to gently combine lamb, onion, parsley, and oregano; season with salt and pepper. Gently form mixture into 16 small patties, about 3/4 inch thick. Grill until medium-rare, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

3. To serve, warm pitas on the grill or directly over a gas burner, turning occasionally. Halve pitas, and fill with lettuce, burgers, tomato, and tzatziki.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Chicken Chilaquiles - My Way

This recipe taught me an important lesson about cooking - read the recipe, from top to bottom and then re-read it again! I've had a bad habit in the past of skimming over a recipe and in the excitement and rush to cook/bake I either leave out an important step or ingredient. The first time we made this, I used 2 CANS of chipotle chiles when it should have been 2 chiles from A can! For those of you who know how hot these chipotle chiles are, laugh it up, I deserve it! Needless to say, there was cartoon-like steam coming out of our ears!!! We love spicy but not that HOT! After a few weeks, we built up the courage to try it again and we liked it alot but it was missing a little something something.

Tonight was our third try and I decided to play around with the recipe and see if we couldn't make it even better. It's perfect! Just enough spice, just enough heat, just enough of everything! Original recipe is here.

Chicken Chilaquiles - My Way
Martha Stewart Everyday Food (Modified)

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, finely chopped (about 1 heaping tablespoon), plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from same can)
2 tbsp oregano
1/4 tsp celery seeds
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
Coarse salt
1 small cooked rotisserie chicken (about 1 3/4 pounds), skinned and shredded (about 4 cups), carcass discarded
1/4 cup chopped green onions
4 cups (about 3 ounces) tortilla chips
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/2 cup jalapeno monterey jack cheese, shredded

1. Combine oil and garlic in a large (3-to-4-quart) saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and sizzling, 1 to 2 minutes.

2. Add tomatoes, chipotles, adobo, and spices, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil; season with salt. Reduce heat and simmer rapidly until lightly thickened, 6 to 8 minutes.

3. Add chicken and cook, stirring, until hot, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.

4. Divide chips among four shallow bowls; top with chicken mixture and sauce. Garnish with green onions, sour cream, and shredded cheese.

Banana Nut Bread

I finally decided to play the "Sunday Game of the Week" on the boards. Usually a number is chosen and you are supposed to pick a recipe from your cookbook associated with that number and review it after you've cooked/baked it. This week they switched it up a bit - the theme was the silliest cookbook title. I don't have too many cookbooks with silly names but this is about as close as it gets - Quickies by Monda Rosenberg (Chatelaine Magazine).

After flipping through I decided on something with bananas since I had some over-ripe ones in the freezer and I had been wanting to make banana bread for gave me a good excuse to out and buy the right pans!

This was really good! Nice crust and moist inside. The only change I made was I added 1 tsp of vanilla. Next time I make this I think I will add a pinch of nutmeg but it was perfect besides that.

Banana Nut Bread

With a fork, stir 2 cups all purpose flour with
1/2 cup granulated sugar,
3 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking sodaand 1/2 tsp salt.
Stir in 1/2 cup finely chopped nuts.
Whisk 1 egg with 3/4 cup milk and
1/4 cup vegetable oil.
Stir in 1 1/2 cups mashed bananas.
Pour in center of dry ingredients and stir until just mixed. It will be lumpy. Turn into a greased 9x5 in. loaf pan.
Bake at 350 until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 65 min. Makes 12 slices.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Orecchiette with Broccoli, Sausage, and Roasted Peppers

As you can see, we like broccoli....ALOT! This recipe is easy, fast, and delicious!

Since we're only 2 I halved the recipe. I used 2 italian sausages, 4 garlic cloves, 1/2 jar of peppers (didn't bother cutting them up), 1/2 cup cheese, and I used penne instead of Orcchiette. We both loved it!

Orecchiette with Broccoli, Sausage, and Roasted Peppers
The Best Recipe

1 pound orcchiette
4 ounces sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
9 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 cup jarred roasted red peppers, cut into 1/2-inch squares
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 pounds broccoli (about 1 large bunch), florets cut into 1 inch pieces; stalks peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 water
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 ounces parmesan cheese, freshly grated (1 cup)

1. Bring 4 quarts water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Add 1 tbsp salt and the pasta to the boiling water and stir to separate the noodles. Cook until al dente. Drain and return the pasta to the pot.

2. While the pasta is cooking, cook the sausage in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, breaking it into small pieces with a spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, roasted red peppers, 1/2 tsp salt, and the black pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Increase the heat to high, add the broccoli and water, cover, and cook until the broccoli begins to turn bright green, 1 to 2 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring frequently, until the water has evaporated and the broccoli is tender, 3 to 5 minutes longer.

3. Add the broccoli mixture, oil, and cheese to the pasta and toss to combine. Serve immediately.

New Cookbook!

I'm so excited...

One minute I'm grumbling to myself as I am preparing the invoices at work and the next I'm beaming ear to ear! What happened you say??? The latest cookbook I ordered just came in the mail today - Everyday Food: Great Food Fast!

I was so afraid there wouldn't be any left by the time it got to the stores that I pre-ordered it months ago. Part of the addiction, I guess...And, yes, I do have an addiction to cookbooks in addition to my addiction to desserts! Last time I counted I had about 35 cookbooks, give or take one or two, and that was AFTER I purged quite a few! I must not be feeling well though because I FORGOT that I had ordered it and was therefore not expecting it hence the excitement! You can be sure they will be quite a few reviews from this book in the near future!

I've settled down and composed myself now....Okay, back to work....

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Espresso-Walnut Cake

I love cake! I love dessert! I have an addiction to sugar! The first step is admitting it and I am PROUD! My weaknesses are many - chocolate cake, lemon cookies, vanilla/almond biscotti's, tiramisu, and finally coffee cakes, especially those with a streusel and those that include cinnamon. So...after flipping through one of my favourite cookbooks "The Best of Cooking Light", I fell upon this coffee cake recipe and I was sold! It wasn't hard to get Marc into the idea and I was off to the kitchen to bake my cake!

I made a few changes. For the streusel, I used 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup walnuts, 2 tbsp of instant coffee granules, and I left the cinnamon the same. For the cake itself, I subbed fat-free sour cream for the yogurt because that's all I had. It was very easy to put together - 10 minutes in all - and all I needed was 2 bowls! It took a little longer to bake in my 8" glass pan - about 7 minutes longer - since my other pans were otherwise occupied with leftover brownies.

So for my review...really really good! We ate it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and if it wasn't so late in the evening right now I would make myself a latte to go with it! It's a really moist cake, lots of coffee flavor, and with that subtle hint of cinnamon, this is the perfect low-fat coffee cake!

Espresso-Walnut Cake
Cooking Light

This cake was screaming for a streusel topping, so we actually used two bowls.

Cooking spray
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon instant espresso or 2 tablespoons instant coffee granules, divided
5 tablespoons butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2/3 cup plain fat-free yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350°.

Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray, and dust with 2 teaspoons flour.

Combine brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon espresso granules in a small bowl.

Place the butter in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave at high for 1 minute or until butter melts. Add granulated sugar, stirring with a whisk. Add eggs; stir well. Stir in yogurt, vanilla, baking soda, and salt. Lightly spoon 1 1/3 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add flour and 2 teaspoons espresso powder, stirring just until blended (do not overstir).

Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan, and sprinkle with half of the brown sugar mixture. Carefully spread remaining batter over brown sugar mixture, and sprinkle with remaining brown sugar mixture.

Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Cut into squares. Yield: 9 servings (serving size: 1 cake square)

NUTRITION PER SERVING: CALORIES 284(30% from fat); FAT 9.4g (sat 4.5g,mono 2.6g,poly 1.7g); PROTEIN 5g; CHOLESTEROL 65mg; CALCIUM 58mg; SODIUM 231mg; FIBER 0.8g; IRON 1.4mg; CARBOHYDRATE 45.4g

Friday, March 09, 2007

Mexican Chicken Casserole

I made this for supper tonight! Marc and I thought it was a really good weeknight recipe! To speed things up, we used a small precooked BBQ chicken. I removed the skin and shredded the chicken so I was able to skip the first step altogether. I also made my own enchilada sauce and we used jalapeno monterey jack cheese for extra kick. Next time I might add a chipotle chile because it wasn't spicy enough for us but besides that it was really good! I served with sour cream and guacamole on the side.

Mexican Chicken Casserole
Cooking Light

1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 (4.5-ounce) cans chopped green chiles, divided
1 3/4 pounds skinned, boned chicken breasts
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup evaporated skim milk
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup (2 ounces) tub-style light cream cheese
1 (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
Cooking spray
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded reduced-fat extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 ounce tortilla chips, crushed (about 6 chips)

Combine broth and 1 can of chiles in a large skillet; bring to a boil. Add chicken; reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until chicken is done, turning chicken once. Remove chicken from cooking liquid, reserving cooking liquid; cool chicken. Shred meat with two forks, and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 can of chiles and onion; sauté 3 minutes or until soft. Add reserved cooking liquid, milk, Monterey Jack, cream cheese, and enchilada sauce; stir well. Stir in shredded chicken; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Place 4 tortillas in the bottom of a 2-quart casserole coated with cooking spray. Spoon 2 cups chicken mixture over tortillas. Repeat layers twice, ending with chicken mixture. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and chips. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

CALORIES 369 (28% from fat); FAT 11.4g (sat 5g,mono 3.8g,poly 1.4g); PROTEIN 35.6g; CHOLESTEROL 79mg; CALCIUM 360mg; SODIUM 479mg; FIBER 3g; IRON 2.4mg; CARBOHYDRATE 31.3g

Alton Brown's Cocoa Brownies

There wasn't anything good on TV last night after supper and I was craving something chocolate! And...we needed to finish up the vanilla bean ice cream in the freezer so brownies it was! I know - excuses, excuses!

I caved and decided I would try a full-fat recipe - it has been ages since I've made something that I haven't slimmed down or that wasn't already slimmed down! To justify it somewhat, I did skim through all the brownie recipes that I had that I wanted to try and since this one had cocoa and NOT chocolate it WAS slightly better for us! Well, that's what I told myself anyways...the other reason I chose this recipe in particular was because I've read so many great reviews lately! Marc and I are don't count calories etc. but I must admit I did cringe a bit when I saw that the recipe called for 1 CUP of BUTTER! I almost regretted making the recipe altogether! In the end though, it was worth every gram of saturated fat and every empty calorie (and please please don't make it worse by telling me how much that is)!

Marc and I agree that these were amazing! Very fudgy with a truffle-like center, intense chocolate flavour but not too sweet, and taller than a regular brownie which was fine by me - more brownie to love! Reviews I had read said to wait until completely cooled before trying them but we just couldn't - a warm brownie from the oven is just too tempting! Warm from the oven they were great but room temperature they were even better!

Forgot to add that the brown sugar is almost impossible to sift so don't even bother!

Alton Brown’s Cocoa Brownies

4 large eggs
1 cup sugar, sifted
1 cup brown sugar, sifted
8 ounces melted butter
1 1/4 cups cocoa, sifted (natural cocoa, not dutch process)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Butter and flour an 8-inch square pan and line with parchment.

Sift the sugars, cocoa, flour, and salt all together.

In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs at medium speed until fluffy and light yellow. Add vanilla.

Add the sifted ingredients alternately with the melted butter.

Pour the batter into a greased and floured 8-inch square pan and bake for 45 minutes. Check for doneness with the tried-and-true toothpick method: a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan should come out clean. When it's done, remove to a rack to cool. After cool enough to handle, flip out of pan, peel off parchment paper, and flip back right side up to cool completely. Resist the temptation to cut into it until it's mostly cool.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Sausage & Shrimp Jambalaya (Revamped!)

I was in the mood for Jambalaya tonight since Marc and I haven't had it in a I was reading over the recipe I was discouraged - standing in front of the stove stirring is not my favourite thing in the world as you can imagine! I began thinking about my favourite Paella recipe - Chicken & Shrimp Paella from Cooking Light - and the reason I love it so much. Not only is it delicious but it's really easy to make. My favourite thing about the recipe is that you start it off on the stove and then all the work is finished in the stove - genius! Basically after sautéing the vegetables and sausage, you add the chicken stock and bring to a boil and once boiling you add the arborio rice and pop in a 400° oven for 30 minutes. So...I got to thinking, what if I followed the recipe but then finished it up in the stove like the Paella recipe...why not, I'll try it!

Well it turned out PERFECT! And now I will never stir another Jambalaya as long as I live!

Sausage & Shrimp Jambalaya
Cooking Light (Modified)

1 bag frozen uncooked 31-40 shrimp
Vegetable cooking spray
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
4 medium hot italian sausages, casings removed
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 1/2 cups no-salt-added chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup arborio rice, uncooked
5-6 dashes of tabasco (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°.

Peel and devein shrimp; set aside. Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; add the oil, and stir in flour.

Cook over medium-high heat 1 1/2 minutes or until brown, stirring constantly. Add onion and the next 4 ingredients; sauté 7 minutes or until tender. Add chicken broth and next 7 ingredients; stir well, and bring to a boil. Add rice; stir well. Wrap handle of pan with foil; cover pan. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until rice is tender and almost all liquid is absorbed. Stir in shrimp; cover and bake an additional 5 minutes or until shrimp are done.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)

NUTRITION PER SERVINGCALORIES 356(16% from fat); FAT 6.4g (sat 1.4g,mono 1.9g,poly 2.3g); PROTEIN 19.7g; CHOLESTEROL 79mg; CALCIUM 111mg; SODIUM 625mg; FIBER 2.7g; IRON 5mg; CARBOHYDRATE 53.1g

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Classic Macaroni & Cheese

After reading the reviews on Lindrusso's blog, I decided that I HAD to make this for Marc - (1) because Marc loves cheese almost as much as he loves me, (2) because I love this cookbook - everything we have made so far from it has been a total success, and (3) I score brownie points whenever I use this cookbook since he bought it for me for Christmas! Ok that last one was a joke...all joking aside...

This recipe is definitely going into our regular weeknight recipe rotation since it was very easy to make. It was also creamy, smooth, and VERY cheesy! Of course, Marc loved THAT! We used 3 cups of cheddar cheese and 1 cup of gouda. Both, Marc and I, agreed that the next time we would use a very sharp cheddar since the cheddar we used was a tad on the mild side. It was still good but a sharper cheese would put this dish into the amazing category. I also couldn't be bothered to make my own breadcrumbs so I used some italian breadcrumbs I had on hand.

Classic Macaroni and Cheese
The New Best Recipe - Cook's Illustrated

It's crucial to cook the pasta until tender--just past the "al dente" stage. In fact, overcooking is better than undercooking the pasta. Whole, low-fat, and skim milk all work well in this recipe. The recipe can be halved and baked in an 8-inch-square, broilersafe baking dish. If desired, offer celery salt or hot sauce (such as Tabasco) for sprinkling at the table.Serves 6 to 8, or 10 to 12 as a side

Bread Crumb Topping
6 slices white sandwich bread (good-quality, about 6 ounces), torn into rough pieces
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold), cut into 6 pieces

Pasta and Cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon table salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
5 cups milk
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese , shredded (2 cups)
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese , shredded (2 cups)
1 teaspoon table salt

1. For the bread crumbs: Pulse bread and butter in food processor until crumbs are no larger than 1/8 inch, ten to fifteen 1-second pulses. Set aside.

2. For the pasta and cheese: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat broiler. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven over high heat. Add macaroni and 1 tablespoon salt; cook until pasta is tender. Drain pasta and set aside in colander.

3. In now-empty Dutch oven, heat butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add flour, mustard, and cayenne (if using) and whisk well to combine. Continue whisking until mixture becomes fragrant and deepens in color, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk; bring mixture to boil, whisking constantly (mixture must reach full boil to fully thicken). Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened to consistency of heavy cream, about 5 minutes. Off heat, whisk in cheeses and 1 teaspoon salt until cheeses are fully melted. Add pasta and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is steaming and heated through, about 6 minutes.

4. Transfer mixture to broiler-safe 9-by 13-inch baking dish and sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs. Broil until crumbs are deep golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes, rotating pan if necessary for even browning. Cool about 5 minutes, then serve.

Go Habs Go!

Yesterday when I arrived at work I saw that they were setting up for a blood drive in the concourse in the building I work in...a little later when I went downstairs to get the mail I saw the RDS flags (local sports TV network) curiousity was definitely piqued! I mean, we get alot of events happening in our building - the annual "Mondial de la Bière" (International Beer Festival and yes I go to this one!), tatoo convention, conferences, parties, etc. - but to see RDS here was a definite first...for me anyways!

Back upstairs I heard on the radio that the Montreal Canadians and Hema Quebec were hosting the 25th annual blood drive in our building! Of course, this had to be on the day that I was super busy and there was no way I could get away from work to go give hoo! This must be your favourite hockey team, you ask? Uhhh, actually I don't even like hockey (actually not fond of watching most sports in general) but it probably would've been the closest I would have ever come to meeting anyone famous! And, of course, Marc would've been soooo jealous because the Canadians are his favourite team...hehehe...

Later in the afternoon, I went down to get a coffee and I saw a zillion kids in hockey jerseys crowding around some hockey players for autographs! RDS was filming and a bunch of reporters were taking was like watching the red carpet at the Oscars with all the flashes going off...I wish I had had our digital camera at that moment...darn it?!#@ Now don't ask me who was who...I have no idea but from what I read this morning most of the players showed up at some point during the day and the alumni filled in when they had to leave for practice...Huet was there, Higgins, Komisarek, Gorges, Ryder, Samsonov, Streit, Murray, Aebischer, Latendresse, Halak...

Editing to Add: Pictures are now posted on their website...
in “select category” go to “community” and then in “select gallery” go to “Canadians 25th annual blood drive”
The pictures below are from a Fan Forum on the Canadians website...

Go habs go!






Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Key Lime Pie

Marc and I are having withdrawals for Key Lime Pie. We haven't had one since the summer and that was ages ago! We love it with whipped cream - yum!

Key Lime Pie
Recipe on the Label of Kermit's Key West Key Lime Juice

This recipe makes a 9-inch pie.

9-inch graham cracker piecrust
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks (The egg whites can be saved to make a meringue topping, if desired.)
1/4-cup Kermit’s Key Lime Juice

Blend milk and egg yolks at slow speed until smooth. Add Key Lime juice and finish blending.
Pour into piecrust.

Bake in preheated 300-degree oven for 15 minutes.

Cool pie 20 minutes before refrigerating.

Serve chilled Key Lime pie with whipped cream topping or meringue.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Chicken Zarzuela Casserole

This was very good. Very fast to prepare and very yummy! The almond mixture that is stirred in at the end really makes the dish so don't leave it out! I made a few changes though; I halved the recipe, we left out the olives, and I used crushed tomatoes since that was all I had. Also, the chicken was done after 20 minutes and not the 40 minutes as specified in the recipe. We served over rice.

There is also a slowcooker version that I have included as well.

Chicken Zarzuela Casserole
Canadian Living Magazine

Ground almonds thicken this Spanish zarzuela sauce, traditionally used with seafood. If you like potatoes, boil up a few, cut into chunks and add to the casserole before heating through.

16 Skinless chicken thighs (about 4 lb/2 kg)
1 tsp (5 mL) Salt
1/2 tsp (2 mL) Pepper
1 tbsp (15 mL) Vegetable oil
1/2 cup (125 mL) Dry white wine (or chicken stock plus 2 tbsp/25 mL white wine vinegar)
1 tbsp (15 mL) Extra-virgin olive oil 2 Spanish onions, chopped 6 Cloves garlic, minced 1 can (28 oz/796 mL) Tomatoes
4 tsp (20 mL) Sweet paprika
1 tsp (5 mL) Dried marjoram or oregano
1/4 tsp (1 mL) Saffron threads
1/3 cup (75 mL) Ground almonds
1 tbsp (15 mL) Lemon juice
1 cup (250 mL) Large green olives, pitted and halved
1/4 cup (50 mL) Chopped fresh parsley

1. Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 tsp (2 mL) of the salt and pepper. In large nonstick skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat; brown chicken in batches, 6 minutes per batch. Transfer to 13- x 9-inch (3 L) glass baking dish. Drain off any fat from skillet. Add wine; bring to boil, stirring to scrape up brown bits. Pour over chicken.

2. Wipe out skillet; heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook onions and 4 of the garlic cloves until golden, about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes, paprika, marjoram and remaining salt, breaking up tomatoes with wooden spoon. Bring to boil; pour over chicken.

3. Cover loosely with foil and bake in 375°F (190°C) oven until chicken is no longer pink inside, about 40 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, crumble saffron into bowl; pour in 2 tbsp (25 mL) hot water and let sit for 5 minutes. Add almonds, remaining garlic and lemon juice. Uncover casserole; stir in almond mixture and olives.

5. Bake until heated through, about 10 minutes. (Make-ahead: Let cool for 30 minutes. Transfer to airtight container. Refrigerate, uncovered, until cold. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Or freeze for up to 2 weeks; thaw in refrigerator for 24 hours. Reheat in 375°F/190°C oven until hot, about 40 minutes.) Stir in parsley.

Nutritional information Per serving: about 356 cal, 35 g pro, 17 g total fat (3 g sat. fat), 16 g carb, 4 g fibre, 138 mg chol, 1,040 mg sodium. % RDI: 9% calcium, 26% iron, 17% vit A, 35% vit C, 15% folate.

Chicken Zarzuela (Slowcooker version)
Canadian Living Magazine

16 chicken thighs
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp oil
2 spanish onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine (or chicken stock plus 2 tbsp white wine vinegar)
1 can (28oz.) tomatoes
4 tsp paprika
1 tsp marjoram or oregano
1/4 tsp saffron threads
1/3 cup ground almonds
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup large green olives, pitted and halves
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp tomato paste

1. Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 tsp of the salt and pepper. In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1 tbsp of the oil over medium-high heat; brown chicken, in batches. Transfer to slow cooker.

2. Drain fat from skillet; heat remaining oil over medium-heat. Fry onions and two-thirds of the garlic until golden, about 4 minutes. Add wine; cook for 1 minute, stirring and scraping up brown bits. Scrape into slow cooker.

3. Add tomatoes, paprika, marjoram, and remaining salt to slow cooker, breaking up tomatoes with spoon. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours.

4. Meanwhile, crumble saffron into bowl; pour in 2 tbsp hot water and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir almonds, remaining garlic and lemon juice into bowl; stir into slow cooker. Add olives, parsley, and tomato paste; cover and cook on high for 20 minutes or until thickened.

Makes 8 servings.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Lemon-Honey Drop Cookies

Marc is working a double-shift today which always leads me to baking up a storm! It's not all his fault though since it was my sister, Jenny, who bought us a mixer at our engagement 2 years ago!

This morning I woke up with a craving for those vanilla almond biscotti's I love so much and I was also craving those italian lemon cookies...I couldn't choose between the two so I ended up baking both...I had this particular cookie recipe in my to-try binder forever so I decided to give it a try...After reading the reviews on the website for the lemon cookies, I decided to increase the lemon extract to 1 tsp - I also used the pure extract because I find the imitation kind tastes like cough drops!...I only had vanilla yogourt so I just used that...

I'm still learning as I go with cookies since I don't make them often so I dropped too much batter and they were a little too close together...they really spread - a little too much...the final product is really really good despite my mistake dropping the batter! They are a very soft cookie much like really miniature cakes, lots of lemon flavour and with the icing they are delish! It's really hard to believe that these are low fat!

I can't wait until Marc gets home - he is going to love them!

Lemon-Honey Drop Cookies
Cooking Light

1/2 cup granulated sugar
7 tablespoons butter or stick margarine, softened
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1/3 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 large egg
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plain fat-free yogurt
Cooking spray
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind

Preheat oven to 350°.

Beat first 3 ingredients with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add honey, extract, and egg; beat until well-blended. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with yogurt, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Drop by level tablespoons 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Combine powdered sugar and juice in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Brush powdered sugar mixture evenly over hot cookies. Sprinkle evenly with 2 teaspoons rind. Remove cookies from pan; cool on wire racks. Yield: 32 cookies (serving size: 1 cookie)

NUTRITION PER SERVINGCALORIES 89(28% from fat); FAT 2.8g (sat 1.6g,mono 0.8g,poly 0.2g); PROTEIN 1.1g; CHOLESTEROL 14mg; CALCIUM 15mg; SODIUM 81mg; FIBER 0.2g; IRON 0.4mg; CARBOHYDRATE 15.3g

Friday, March 02, 2007

Cheesy Hash-Brown Bake/My Mom's Chili Con Carne

This is comfort food at it's best! I knew Marc would love it because he loves chili, he loves hashbrowns, and he has an addiction to cheese so I was quite confident that this would be a success! Perfect winter recipe! I am sure Marc will be requesting this quite often!

I didn't use Martha's chili recipe but I did get the idea from this recipe...I used my mom's chili recipe and I will post below after Martha' time (and there will most definitely be a next time) I will try with Martha's chili recipe

Cheesy Hash-Brown Bake
Martha Stewart - Everyday Food Mag - March 2007

4 cups "30-Minute Chili" (recipe follows)
1 bag (16 oz.) fresh or frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed if frozen
4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
coarse salt and groud peppper

1. Preheat oven to 425°, with rack set in upper third. Divide chili among four individual baking dishes (10 to 12 ounces each). Set aside.

2. Place potatoes in a double layer of paper towels; squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

3. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, cheese, and cilantro; season with salt and pepper. Scatter potato mixture over chili. Place baking dishes on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until potatoes are golden brown and bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve.

Note: you can also make this in a 2-quart baking dish. Bake in a 425° oven 40 to 45 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil if the top browns too quickly.

30-Minute Chili
Martha Stewart - Everyday Food Mag - March 2007

1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 medium onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
3 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1/2 tsp ground cinnnamon
3 pounds ground beef chuck
3 cans (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes in juice
1 bottle (12 oz.) mild lager beer
2 cans (14.5 oz.) kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1. In a dutch oven or large (5 quart) heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onions and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Add tomato paste, chili powder, chipotles, and cinnamon. Cook, stirring, until mixture has begun to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add beef, and cook, breaking it up with a spoon until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.

3. Add tomatoes with their juice, beer, and beans. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a rapid simmer. Cook over medium heat until chili has thickened slightly and beans are tender, about 5 minutes.

My Mom's Chili Con Carne

2 lbs lean ground beef
~3 stalks celery, chopped
~2 medium green peppers, chopped
1 large onion, diced
2 medium garlic cloves, diced
2 cans (19 oz.) kidney beans, do not drain
1 can (5.5 oz.) tomato paste
2 cans (24 oz.) diced tomatoes, do not drain
1/2 tbsp crushed chiles
1-2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp celery salt
oregano and pepper to taste

Over medium heat heat oil in large pot; add chili peppers, stir constantly for 3o seconds. Add green peppers, celery, garlic, and onions, saute until green peppers and celery are tender. Add meat and brown, breaking up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Add tomatoes, kidney beans, and tomato paste (including liquids in cans). Bring to a boil and then simmer covered for one hour and uncovered for 2-3 hours.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Angel Food Berry Shortcake

This is soooo easy to make it's it's delicious!

Angel Food Berry Shortcake
Party Dish - Trish Magwood


1 x 10-inch (25 cm) angel food cake
2 1/2 tbsp (12 mL) unflavoured gelatin
1/4 cup (50 mL) cold water
3 cups (750 mL) 35 % cream
1/2 cup (125 mL) mascarpone cream
1/2 cup (125 mL) sugar
4 cups (1 L) mixed fresh berries, such as raspberries, strawberries and blackberries
Mint sprigs
Icing sugar


In a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over water. Let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. Cook over low heat, just until gelatin melts. Cool.

In the large bowl of a stand mixer, beat cream, mascarpone and sugar until firm peaks form. Reduce heat to low, and scrape in gelatin. Mix on low, just until combined.

To assemble: Cut cake into three layers. Place the bottom layer on a cake plate or serving platter. Spread half the cream over the layer, and top with 1/3 of the mixed berries. Repeat with second layer. Place top layer on cake and sprinkle on remaining berries. Dust with icing sugar, and garnish with mint sprig.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to 1 hour before serving.

Serves 8

Broccoli Pasta

I LOVE broccoli and I LOVE ricotta so it goes without saying that I would LOVE this recipe...

Broccoli Pasta
Party Dish - Trish Magwood


2 bunches broccoli
1 lb. (500 g) pasta shells, or other dried pasta shapes
2 tbsp (25 mL) salt
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp (1 mL) hot pepper flakes
1/2 cup (125 mL) ricotta or Parmesan cheese


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt. Meanwhile, separate broccoli florets from the stalks (or peel the broccoli stems and cut into small cubes.) Add the broccoli to the boiling water and cook until tender but still bright green, about 5 minutes. Remove broccoli with slotted spoon.

Add pasta and cook to desired doneness, 8-12 minutes(check package guidelines). Drain reserving 1 cup (250 mL) of the pasta water.

In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and add garlic and hot pepper flakes. Saute until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add drained broccoli. Mix in ricotta cheese and pasta, until sauce is creamy. If sauce is too dry, add as much pasta water as desired to get a creamy consistency.

Serves 4