Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Artichoke Chicken Fettuccine

This meal is quite honestly one of THE best dinners I have made - just ask my kids and hubby who not only stuffed themselves silly last night with it, but took it for lunch today, they loved it so much! It's one of those super-easy but flavourful meals that is suprisingly not that high in fat (although it's rich taste might make you think otherwise!!)

8oz uncooked fettuccine
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small 1" strips or chunks
4 pieces of bacon, diced
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tbsp chopped red bell pepper
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup 2% milk
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
1 can, water-packed artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and quartered
  • Cook fettuccine according to package directions. Drain and keep warm.
  • Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute chicken, bacon, onion and red pepper until chicken juices run clear and vegetables are tender. Drain and keep warm.
  • In the skillet melt butter and whisk in flour until smooth. Gradually add the broth milk and mustard. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in Parmesan Reggiano and artichokes. Remove from heat and stir in chicken mixture. Add to pasta and ENJOY!!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Apple Cranberry Crumble

My sweet tooth was aching for something the other day so I went to my binder of recipes and found this super-easy and super delicious dessert. It uses items that I had in my freezer and pantry and took only minutes to put together...my friend Michelle's family loved it!

3 cups chopped peeled apples (I used golden delicious)
2 cups of fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed
3/4 cups sugar
1 cup old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional
  • In a greased 8" square baking dish, combine apples and cranberries; sprinkle with sugar. In another bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, flour and butter; sprinkle over cranberry mixture. Top with pecans if desired.
  • Bake, uncovered, at 350F for 55-60 minutes, or until browned and bubbly. Serve warm (although it's delicious at room temperature too!)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Glazed Peanut Butter Bars

I spied these in a magazine and thought they would be an easy after school treat for India and Devon (not to mention an after work treat for Greg!) These chewy and sweet bars are absolutely delicious and I bet you can't just eat one!!

3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp water
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1 /2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1 /4 cups milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • In a large bowl, cream the butter, peanut butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, water and vanilla. Combine the flour, oats baking soda and salt,; gradually add to the creamed mixture.

  • Spread into a greased 15"x10"x1" baking pan. Bake at 325F for 18-22 mins. or until lightly browned.

  • For glaze, in a microwave safe bowl, melt chips and peanut butter; stir until smooth. Pour over warm bars; spreading evenly. Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting.

  • ENJOY!!!!

Yummy Tuna Noodle Casserole!

My kids love egg noodles, peas and tuna (not to mention creamy alfredo sauce), so this dish was a hit! You can top the casserole with a combination of crispy panko breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan Reggiano, or just crumble plain potato chips on top like I did ;0)

1 cup whipping cream
1 cup grated Parmesan-Reggiano
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Pinch grated nutmeg
16 oz of wide egg noodles
1 pkg (10 oz) frozen peas (I used canned because that's what I had on hand)
1 can of solid white water-packed tuna, drained and flaked
1 cup of panko breadcrumbs, or crumbled plain potato chips (although dill might be nice too!!)
  • In a pot of boiling, salted water, cook egg noodles until al dente. Drain and put into a medium sized casserole dish. Stir in the tuna and peas. Set aside.

  • In the same saucepan over medium-high heat, heat both the butter and whipping cream until little bubbles appear on the surface. Whisk in the Parmesan-Reggiano with the salt, pepper and nutmeg.

  • Pour the alfredo sauce over the noodles and stir to ensure everything is evenly covered.

  • Top with crumbled plain potato chips or panko breadcrumbs and place into a 350F oven until the topping goes golden brown and the sauce is bubbling.

  • Serve and ENJOY!

Long Grain & Wild Rice with Pecans and Craisins

I have had a bag of wild & long grain rice sitting in my pantry for quite a number of months, so I decided today was the day that I was going to use it up! This is a delicious and deceptively simple rice that looks and tastes like a gourmet dish.

1 cup uncooked long grain rice
1 cup uncooked wild rice
2/3 cup craisins (or dried cherries)
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 rib of celery, finely diced
1 small red onion, diced
2 tbsp butter
5 cups chicken broth (or use vegetable broth)
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

  • In a large saucepan, saute celery, carrot and onion in butter until tender, over medium-high heat. Stir in the broth and the wild rice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 25 mins.

  • Add long grain rice; cover and simmer 20 mins. longer. Stir in the craisins; cook 5 mins longer or until the liquid is absorbed. Just before serving, stir in the toasted pecans (to toast them you can either dry fry them in a skillet, or place them on a baking sheet under the broiler...just make sure you keep turning the nuts so that they don't burn!)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tender Beef & Sweet Potato Saute

I found this recipe in 2010's "Milk" calendar and it caught my eye because it required ingredients that I generally have on hand in the fridge/pantry/freezer and combines all the flavours I love! It notes that you can also spice this dish up with 1/4 tsp cayenne added to the beef, as well as sweeten the dish with 1/4 cup of raisins, sliced green olives and 1 tbsp capers with the green peppers....next time I'm going to try these variations!

1lb boneless beef sirloin or other grilling steak
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
salt and pepper
1 tbsp butter, divided
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 cups diced sweet potato
3/4 cup reduced -sodium beef broth
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 green bell pepper, chopped (I used yellow because that's what I had in the fridge!)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted (optional garnish)
  • Trim off fat from beef and cut across the grain into thin strips. In a bowl, sprinkle the beef with cumin, cinnamon and 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper. Stir to coat.

  • In a large skillet melt half of the butter over medium-high heat. Brown beef strips in batches, adding more butter if necessary; transfer to a clean bowl.

  • Reduce heat to medium. Melt remaining butter in the skillet and add the onion and sweet potatoes. Saute for approx. 3 mins. or until onion is softened. Add beef broth, increase heat to medium high and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

  • Whisk flour into the milk and gradually stir into the skillet; bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, for approx. 5 mins or until sweet potatoes are almost tender.

  • Stir in the green bell pepper. Simmer, stirring often, for 3 mins, or until pepper is tender-crisp and the sauce has thickened.

  • Stir in beef with accumulated juices and tomato paste; simmer for 2 mins. or until beef is hot. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  • Serve sprinkled with toasted almonds & ENJOY!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chicken and Artichoke Flatbreads

I tuned in to the new Canadian Living cooking show "Best Recipes Ever", at the suggestion of my friend Michelle, and I am glad I did! I am a HUGE fan of Canadian Living and have had a subscription for a little over a decade now. Many of the dishes that I cook are either from the recipes I have pulled from my magazines, or inspired by Canadian Living recipes. This dish is no exception. It comes directly from the show and can be found on www.cbc.c/bestrecipes/2010/01/artichoke-chicken-flatbread.html

As always I made a few variations according to what I had on hand - and you can too!

2 naan breads
1 jar of roasted bell peppers (I used yellow peppers), drained
1 small jar of pickled pimentos, drained
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
Shredded leftover chicken
Black olives, pitted and sliced (I was out so I used my Tomato and Olive Antipasto)
Red onion, thinly sliced
Small jar of artichoke hearts, drained and cut into slices
Goat's cheese

  • In a mini processor or a blender, process the roasted peppers, pimentos and garlic with a thin drizzle of EVOO until a smooth sauce.

  • Spread the pepper sauce over the naan breads with a spoon.

  • Spread the remaining toppings evenly over the two naan breads and place in a 500F oven until the goat's cheese and naan become golden brown.

  • Remove and cut into strips and serve!

*If you want a less spicy pepper sauce for the base, just omit the pimentos! Also, if you would prefer, you could use buffalo mozzarella in place of the goat's cheese - or use both!!*

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Garlic-Laced Chickpea Soup

This is one of those incredibly satisfying soups that is simple to assemble and is perfect for vegetarian and vegan diets! 9 ingredients are all that you require to make this soup (although you can certainly add to it as you go!)

2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 3/4 cups of chickpeas (I used canned but you can use dried and soak them overnight in cold water)
2 large fresh rosemary sprigs
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Heat the EVOO in a Dutch oven (or large soup pot), add the garlic slices and saute over med-low heat for approximately 5 minutes, or until they begin to go golden brown. Stir in the onion and cook for a further 5 minutes, or until the onions soften.

  • Meanwhile drain the chickpeas and rinse them and drain thoroughly in a sieve. Add them to the onion and garlic and stir to coat well in the EVOO. Add the rosemary sprigs and then enough water to cover the chickpeas (I added approx. 4 cups)

  • Slowly bring to the boil. Lower to medium heat and cover. Cook for approx. 1 hour or until the chickpeas are soft.

  • Remove the rosemary sprigs and put the flour in a cup. Stir in the lemon juice to make a smooth paste. When the chickpeas are perfectly soft, stir in the flour paste and bring tot he boil, stirring. Taste and add seasonings if necessary. Cover the pan and cook gently for 5 to 10 minutes.

  • To thicken the soup slightly use an immersion blender and roughly puree the soup (otherwise add half the soup to a food processor or blender and puree - add back to the pot with the remaining chickpeas).

  • Serve and enjoy!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Dal - An Indian Red Lentil Dish

Dal is one of those Indian comfort foods that I could just eat contentedly with a piece of warm garlic naan bread! This is a delicious recipe that incorporates a smoky flavour that really hits the spot!
1/4 cup butter
2 tsp black mustard seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp grated gingerroot
1 tsp turmeric
2 green chilies, deseeded and finely chopped *wear gloves!!*
1 cup of dried red lentils
4 cups water
1 1 /4 cups coconut milk
1 tsp salt
  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and cover the pan - when you can hear the seeds popping, add the onion, garlic and gingerroot (this smell emanating from the pot just makes my mouth water!!)
  • Cook uncovered until they are soft and the garlic is brown - about 7 to 8 minutes. Do not worry that the garlic is burned to the bottom of the pan - this is what produces the heavenly smoky flavour.
  • Stir in the turmeric and green chilies and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the chilies soften a little.
  • Add the lentils, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until they begin to turn translucent.
  • Add the water, coconut milk and salt. Stir well and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 40 minutes, or until the desired consistency is reached. You may like it more liquid than I do, in which case 40 minutes will be about right. For a thicker consistency you will need to cook it about 10 to 15 minutes longer.
  • Serve immediately and ENJOY!!!


For me the quintessential Indian dish is butter chicken. You can tell the calibre of the restaurant you are at simply by the sauce - many try to use a cream of tomato base which is always too salty (like prepared soups are) and not a robust fresh tomato taste. I love to make it at home for my family...and the bonus is leftovers can be chopped up and made into sandwiches or put on salad!!!!
This is NOT a low-cal option, but it is the #1 way to get into my good books by preparing it for dinner ... hint, hint !!
BUTTER CHICKEN - Murgh Makhani
2 cups Balkan-style plain yogurt
6 cloves garlic, minced
1" piece of gingerroot, minced
1 tbsp Garam Masala
1 tbsp each lime juice and medium curry paste
2 tsp each mild paprika, ground cumin and coriander
1/2 tsp salt
8 air-chilled free range chicken breasts
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp Garma Masala
2 tsp each mild paprika and medium curry paste
1 can chopped tomatoes
3/4 cup whipping cream
1/3 cold butter, cubed
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander
  • Line a sieve with cheesecloth; set over a bowl. Add yogurt; drain in refrigerator for 1 hour. Discard liquid; place yogurt in a large bowl and whisk in garlic, ginger, garam masala, lime juice, curry paste, paprika, cumin, coriander and salt.
  • Add chicken to bowl (or a large ziploc freezer bag), and turn to coat with yogurt marinade. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
  • Place chicken, skin side up, on a rack in a large shallow roasting pan; spoon yogurt mixture over top. Roast in a 400F oven until no longer pink inside - about 45 mins. Transfer to a platter and tent with foil; let stand 10 minutes. Skim fat from pan juices, reserving juices in pan.
  • BUTTER SAUCE: Meanwhile in a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onion until browned - approx. 10 mins. Add garam masala, paprika, and curry paste; cook, stirring often until fragrant and beginning to stick to the pan - about 5 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes and scrape up browned bits from the bottom of the pan; mash tomatoes with spoon. Simmer until spoon drawn across the bottom of the pan leaves a gap that fills in slowly - about 15 minutes.
  • Let cool slightly. In a food processor or blender, puree until smooth *You can make this ahead of time and allow to cool; cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours*
  • Pour sauce into a roasting pan; bring to a boil over medium heat, scraping up any brown bits. Add cream and butter, a few pieces at a time, cooking just until each is melted and incorporated. Pour over chicken. Garnish with coriander.
  • ENJOY with a cold beer and naan bread!!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Peanut and Potato Soup

Peanut soup is a firm favourite throughout Central and South America, and is particularly popular in Bolivia and Ecuador. As in many Latin American recipes, the peanuts are used as a thickening agent, with unexpectedly delicious results!

4 tbsp peanut oil (or EVOO if you don't have it)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
4 potatoes, peeled and diced
2 fresh red chilies seeded and chopped
7oz or 200g can of chopped tomatoes
1 1/4 cups unsalted peanuts
6 1/2 cups homemade beef stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Heat the oil in a large dutch oven over low heat. Stir in the onion and cook for 5 minutes, until beginning to soften.
  • Add the garlic, pepper, potatoes, chilies, and tomatoes. Stir well to coat the vegetables evenly with the oil. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, or until vegetables are softened.
  • Meanwhile, toast the peanuts by gently cooking them in a large dry frying pan over medium heat. Ensure that you keep stirring to prevent the peanuts from burning.
  • Remove from heat and process the peanuts in a food processor until finely ground. Either add the vegetables and continue processing until a smooth consistency, or add nuts to the soup and use an immersion blender to process the vegetables.
  • Return the mixture to the dutch oven and stir in the beef stock. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes so the flavours can combine.
  • Pour the soup into heated bowls and garnish with a swirl of peanut butter and some dried red chili flakes.
  • ENJOY!!

* You can substitute peanut butter for the unsalted peanuts, but ensure that you use equal quantities of chunky and smooth to get the ideal texture - you want some coarser chopped peanuts to add some crunch to the soup!*

Peanut Butter Oat Cookies

I wanted to make a yummy and somewhat nutritious after-school snack for my friend Michelle's and my children on Friday. I didn't have much time and didn't want to run out to the store to buy ingredients so I dove into my huge collection of recipes and found this gem! I hope you enjoy them as much as we all did!

1 cup butter, melted
1 cup natural peanut butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup wheat bran
3/4 cup quick cooking oats
2 tsp baking soda
  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • In a medium sized bowl, cream the butter, peanut butter and sugars together with a hand mixer, until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
  • Combine the remaining ingredients; stir into the creamed mixture and mix well.
  • Drop by tablespoonfuls 2" apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper (or if non-stick, make sure the pan is ungreased).
  • Bake for 10 - 12 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Cool for 3 minutes on the pan until removing to wire racks.
  • ENJOY!!

*low fat or thinnner brands of peanut butter do not work well with this recipe*

Black Beans with Corn and Tomatoes

This is one of those super-easy side dishes that I love not only for it's clean taste and ease of preparation (because I generally have the ingredients at hand), but also because it is so good for you! Tasty and healthy?! You bet!

1 tbsp EVOO
1/2 a yellow onion, finely diced
1 - 28oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp finely chopped green chilis
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 small can of corn, drained and rinsed
Pinch of salt
Fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the onion. Saute for approximately 5 minutes (or until the onion is translucent).
  • Add the black beans, chilis, tomatoes, cilantro and corn. Simmer 15 minutes over medium heat. If the mixture becomes too dry, you can add a touch of water or fresh lime juice (my personal favourite as it makes the flavour of the chilis and cilantro just pop!) Taste and add salt if required.
  • Serve with lime wedges and ENJOY!