Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Easy Chicken Noodle Soup

My children have embraced chicken noodle soup with great gusto since the weather has become more autumnal...lucky for them that we have poultry a-plenty due to the fact we belong to the poultry share at "Cooper's CSA Farm & Maze"!!  I roasted one of their delicious free-range, pasture raised, hormone and antibiotic free chickens for dinner one day, stripped the carcass and used the bones for making stock (see below on how to do this!), and used some of the meat for this delicious soup that only takes 30 minutes to create!

4 cups water
3 cups homemade chicken broth (or the best low sodium store bought)
1 1/2 cups cubed, cooked chicken
3/4 cup cubed celery
3/4 cup cubed carrots
1 small onion, diced
1 1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 cups uncooked egg noodles (I used wide ones, but the matchstick work beautifully too)

  • In a large pot or Dutch oven, combine the first 8 ingredients.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender.  Stir in noodles; cook 5 to 7 minutes longer or until noodles and vegetables are tender.

  • ENJOY!
*If you feel that your soup is not 'chicken-y' enough, you could add 1 tsp of sodium-reduced chicken bouillon granules to the pot, however if you're using a homemade stock the flavour should be just fine!

8 cups water
2 3/4 lbs (1.375 kg) of turkey or chicken carcass, wings, legs
1 rib celery, roughly chopped
1 onion, skin on, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed
1 tsp each of Kosher salt and black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
  • In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, bring water, carcass, celery, onion, garlic, salt, peppercorns, and bay leaves to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until reduced to approximately 6 cups.  This will take about an hour.
  • Strain and skim off foam.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for a week, or freeze in cubes and then store in a ziploc bag in the freezer for a couple of months!

Toad - In - The - Hole with Onion Gravy

The kids were intrigued by the name of this traditional British dish, so I decided that since we had wild boar sausages in the freezer from "Cooper's CSA Farm & Maze", that I would recreate this dish!  It was delicious and really simple!
 8 large good-quality sausages (mine were honey-garlic wild boar)
 2 large red onions, peeled and sliced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
2 tbsp of butter
6 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp good-quality vegetable stock powder or 1 vegetable stock cube
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
3 eggs

  •  Put just under ½ " of oil into a loaf pan, then place this on the middle shelf of your oven at 475ºF.  Place a larger tray underneath it to catch any oil that overflows from the pan while cooking. When the oil is very hot, add your sausages. Keep your eye on them and allow them to colour until lightly golden. 
  • Take the pan out of the oven, being very careful, and pour your batter over the sausages.  It will bubble instantly.  Carefully place the pan back in the oven for at least 20 minutes, to allow the Yorkshire puddings to rise. Do not open the oven door!  Remove from the oven when golden and crisp.
  •  Onion Gravy:  Saute the onions and garlic in the butter on a medium heat for approximately 5 minutes, or until they are translucent. Add the balsamic vinegar and allow it to reduce down by half. Add a stock cube or the stock powder.  Sprinkle this in and add 1 tbsp of water. Allow to simmer and you'll have a really tasty onion gravy! 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

This is a fantastic recipe that is so easy to pack and freeze - it was a regular dish in our house when we had a 2 year old and a newborn in the house!  Now I make these as a convenient go-to dinner when all inspiration fails me (and I know that these 'freezer treats' aren't packed with preservatives, sodium and other things that I can't pronounce!)

1 tbsp EVOO
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 sweet red bell pepper, chopped
1 can (19 oz/540 mL) of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup salsa
8 large whole wheat or flax soft tortillas
2 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup light sour cream
  • In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; fry onion, garlic, salt and pepper until softened, about 3 minutes.  Add chicken, jalapeno, red pepper, beans and salsa; cook, stirring, until chicken is no longer pink inside.  Approx. 10 minutes.  Let cool.
  • Spoon about 3/4 cup of the filling down the centre of each tortilla; sprinkle each with 1/4 cup of the cheese. 
  • Fold in bottom edge, then sides; roll up.  Place, seam side down, in a greased 13" x 9" glass baking dish.  Sprinkle remaining cheese over top.
  • Bake in a 400F oven until golden and hot, and cheese is melted, about 15 minutes.  Serve with sour cream.
*Freezing Instructions:  After sprinkling with remaining cheese, let unbaked burritos cool for 30 minutes.  Refrigerate until cold.  Cover and overwrap with heavy-duty foil (or wrap individually in heavy-duty foil) and freeze for up to 1 month.  Bake from frozen, loosely covered with foil in 400F oven until golden and hot, and cheese is melted.  Approx. 25 minutes.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Our Own Oktoberfest Meal!!

Wild boar sausages on a bun with sauerkraut, mustard and German beer...
it's almost time for Oktoberfest!!!

 Greg and I were talking about Oktoberfest the other night and that turned my thoughts to the awesome selection of sausages and beers that him and I experienced when in I decided to recreate the meal one night to much applause from my family!

I went over to "Cooper's CSA Farm & Maze" and purchased a package of the amazing wild boar sausages that they sell!!  Honey garlic for the kids and regular for us, grilled on the BBQ!  Heaping amounts of sauerkraut and mustard (honey mustard for the kids and HOT for us!) all on a panini bun and topped off with some German wheat beer (sans beer for the kiddies!!) and we had a fabulous meal!!!  YUM!

Homemade Chicken Tenders

I created this large serving dish of tenders from only
four chicken breasts - economical, easy and
ingredients you don't need a science degree to
pronounce or understand!
The kids had friends over last night for a playdate and some dinner - I thought that my homemade chicken tenders would be perfect for dinner...and judging by how quickly the kids gobbled them up, they were!  These are so simple that usually my 7 year-old son, Devon, makes these himself and I simply slice the chicken breasts and put them in the oven for him! 
We originally got this recipe from the Canadian Living television show "Best Recipes Ever" and the sauce that she suggested is also great - so I have included that also in case you want a change from plum sauce or ketchup in your household!!

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts sliced into 'fingers'
1 egg
1 tbsp cold water
1 cup dry bread crumbs
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander or 1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp cajun seasoning
1/4 tsp onion salt

  •  In shallow bowl, whisk egg with cold water. In another shallow bowl, combine bread crumbs, coriander, Cajun seasoning and salt. Dip chicken strips into egg mixture, then into bread crumb mixture to coat all over.
  • Arrange chicken on greased rimmed baking sheet. Bake in 400°F (200°C) oven until golden and no longer pink inside, about 15 minutes.

1/4 cup apple juice or cider
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
 2 tbsp peach or aprict jam
 1 clove garlic, minced
1-1/2 tsp cider vinegar

  • In microwaveable bowl, combine apple juice, peanut butter, apricot jam, garlic and vinegar; cover and microwave at Medium-High (70%) for 2 minutes or until blended and warm, stirring once.
  • Serve warm with chicken strips for dipping.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Baby Boy 8" x 8" Scrapbook!

This is a photo of Meghan at 6 mos -
I used adobe photoshop to convert it to
black & white and used film grain to
create a 'texture' to the photo!  The
 clock signifies the waiting that every
pregnant woman experiences!
My brother-in-law and his wife, Meghan, are expecting a baby boy in early November!! They've chosen the name Simon and the baby shower was this past weekend. The one requirement was that instead of a card, we write a message to Meghan, Geoff and the baby on a book that they can read together. I decided to make my own book that they can share and created an 8"x8" scrapbook of pre-made pages for them to place their favourite photos in! (and I made a card because I LOVE making cards!!) Here's a picture of it!

Please bear with me because I am not overly confident with posting more than one photo at a time (and there are quite a few because I included one of each page and the card!!), but I feel they're definitely worth a look!  For some reason I loaded them in order, but they got mixed up?!  Enjoy!

I visualized a beautiful black and white photo of our newborn nephew on this page!  I used a silver stamp pad on the edges of the navy star and then elevated each star with foam squares.  The title is a double layer of navy lettering with silver on top!

This is the cover page and on the back of each of these pages, since Meghan isn't a scrapbooker, I put a sticky note with a drawing of the page and where I thought pictures would look nice on each!

I thought a beautiful photo of Simon in the hospital with his Mum and Dad, could go on this page!!                                                                             

I love the primary coloured blocks of paper on this page!

I titled this page "On The Move" so that they could place photos of Simon in his car seat or stroller on this page
I think this is one of my favourite pages of the whole album - the colours just speak to me!  Hopefully this is where a picture of all of us with the new baby will be placed!
I remember feeding time being a messy time as both of my kids 'explored' what was in their bowls or mouths!  I attempted to capture this memory with the splatters!!

Just a fun page where perhaps they could have a photo of Simon when he first arrives home and everything is new to both him and to his parents!

Obviously I made this page with a photo of both India and Devon with Simon, in mind!!  The "o" in Cousins is a blue heart-shaped brad and the squares are just scraps of paper put together in a way that reminded me of a quilt!

A 'manly' page celebrating Father's Day - the blue square brads in the top left corner spell D-A-D.  A metal heart elevated off the page with foam squares and a strip of coordinating ribbon down the left side, completes the page!

Another one of the holidays that Simon will experience in his first year - Valentine's Day!
I created this fun & vibrant page so Meghan can add a photo of Simon at a playgroup or with some of his little friends!  The yellow tag is held in place with a brad that's a blue arrow - all the children's names who are in the photo with Simon can be listed on this tag!
It's always lovely to head outdoors and go for an autumnal hike, pick apples, or choose a pumpkin at a local farm - this page was created with that sort of activity in mind!
I placed this page after the Valentine's Day page with an Easter Bunny theme!  It could also include a small photo of some other springtime activity such as going to a sugar shack for maple syrup, or looking at the spring flowers.
Of course there always needs to be a page for Mother's Day!  As this page is opposite the one for Father's Day, I chose papers that have polka-dots for both! 
Summertime is always a time for playing on the beach - I thought it might be nice to have a page where Geoff and Meghan can put a photo of Simon at the cottage on the dock, in the boat or playing on the beach!
The very last page in the album is one celebrating Simon's first birthday!!
Don't know if Simon will be dressing up for Halloween, but this could also include a picture of visiting a u-pick pumpkin patch or him beside a jack-o-lantern!  The ghost has purple eyes so I found a square of coordinating paper and then elevated it off the page with foam squares so it looks like it's floating!
There's nothing sweeter than a photo of a little baby fast asleep!  I used silver lettering to make the title 'quieter' and the silver star is elevated off the page using foam squares.
Thanksgiving is always a nice time of year when all the family gets together - in 2011 we'll be thankful for this new addition to our family!  The photo square in the middle is held in place by the two photo corners.  I punched out a leaf in the top left corner and added a yellow piece of paper in behind to make it stand out and then some buttons finish it off!
Nothing cuter than a baby new year!  I hope Geoff and Meghan get him a little top hat to complete the look! 
Just a fun playful page to display a photo of Simon with some of his favourite toys!
Simon will only be a month and a half old when St. Nick comes to visit, but I hope they have a photo of him curled up on Santa's lap for this page!!
Bath time was always a fun time in our house and I have many photos of India and Devon sporting shampoo horns and mohawks in the tub!!  Just a page devoted to splishy-splashy fun!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cheddar Apple Soup

Mother Nature has definitely turned her thoughts towards autumn, and the air is getting chillier! I picked up our CSA box from "Cooper's CSA Farm & Maze" today and inside were all sorts of delicious vegetables ~ and most notably baby leeks!!! I LOVE the tender flavour of leeks and nothing smells better than sliced leeks sauteing in butter!!! Since we also received carrots, and I have apples from our apple-picking expedition to "Siloam Orchards" on Sunday, I decided to make this fall favourite! Paired with a loaf of warm crusty bread, this makes a delicious cool weather dinner!
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 small apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 leek, sliced thinly
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups apple cider or juice
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
Pinch hot pepper flakes
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano
  • In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat and saute the apples, leeks, carrots and celery until softened.
  • Add flour and stir well to coat the vegetables. Stir in the broth, cider, curry powder, cumin and pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer until the apples and vegetables are tender.
  • Using an immersion blender, or in a food processor or blender in batches, puree the soup until smooth. Return to Dutch oven and bring to a simmer.
  • Whisk in the cheeses until melted and soup is smooth.
  • Serve with a warm loaf of crusty bread and ENJOY!

*To properly prepare leeks: Cut off root end and slice leek in half, lengthwise. Under running water, gently rinse to remove all grit that can be trapped in between the layers of the leek. Shake dry and then lay the halves, cut side down and slice!*

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Asian Chicken with Vegetables

As I am sitting here eating a bowl of steel-cut oatmeal with blueberries and cinnamon, and my apple sauce is 'doing its thing' on the cook top, I thought I would share with you an easy and DELICIOUS dinner that I made last night from the "Foodland Ontario" collection of recipes booklet that is available now (I got mine at Siloam Orchards, but I believe Cooper's CSA Farm & Maze also has them!)

All of my family loved this recipe (okay, so India loved the chicken and cabbage ONLY, but she still ate it!). I had a cooked whole chicken in the fridge from Cooper's, a Napa cabbage that desperately needed using, carrots and potatoes from the farm and just had to add store-bought mushrooms and water chestnuts! It's a low cal (200 calories/ bowl), high protein (20 grams), and fibre rich meal (5 grams) that is easy to prepare!!! Try it tonight!!
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks (I shredded my pre-cooked chicken)
3 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup naturally brewed soy sauce
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 medium carrots, sliced diagonally in 1/2" slices
2 medium white potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
250g sliced mushrooms; crimini or shiitake (I used regular button)
4 cups thickly sliced cabbage
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained (optional)
  • Heat oil in a deep skillet or wok, over medium high heat and saute chicken for 2 to 3 minutes or until no longer pink.
  • Add chicken broth, soy sauce, sugar, carrots, potatoes, mushrooms and cabbage; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  • Stir in water chestnuts, if using, and heat until hot.
  • Serve in wide bowls and ENJOY!

*I also had a can of bamboo shoots which I sliced and added to this dish, and I garnished with sliced green onions for colour!*

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Summer Vegetables with a Spicy Coconut Curry

I have to admit that the two vegetables I really don't enjoy are eggplant and green beans. Both of which I have received recently in my CSA boxes from "Cooper's CSA Farm & Maze" when I saw this recipe in July's edition of 'Chatelaine', I decided to give it a go since I do love coconut, curry and lentils!
It was DELICIOUS!!! My husband and I loved all of it; the kids tried it but predictably ate only the lentils (dal) on top!

1/2 cup red lentils
500g green beans, trimmed and cut in half
2 tbsp Indian curry paste (I used a Tikki Masala sauce because that's what I had on hand)
1/2 can (200mL) of coconut milk, preferably light
1/8 tsp salt
2 Japanese eggplants (I used Sicilian because this is what I had)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, sliced
lemon wedges
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
4 whole wheat naan breads (optional)
  • Combine the lentils with 2 1/2 cups water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-high and simmer uncovered, stirring frequently, until lentils soften. Approximately 8 minutes. Set green beans in a steamer basket over the lentils. Steam covered for 7 minutes and remove. Mix curry paste with 1 tbsp water and then add to the simmering lentils. Stir in the coconut milk and salt. Simmer, uncovered for 7 to 9 minutes more, or until thickened.
  • Slice eggplants in quarters lengthwise then into 2" wedges while lentils simmer. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a skillet and saute onions until softened. Add eggplant and cook till tender (approx. 7 minutes). Add steamed green beans and toss to combine.
  • Serve the green beans, onions and eggplant with the creamy lentils over top and garnish with cilantro and lemon wedges!

*I don't have a steamer basket so I steamed the green beans separately. Also since I used a curry sauce and not a paste, I omitted the water. Lastly Japanese eggplants are generally firmer in texture than Sicilian*


It's that time of year again when all the tomatoes are at the peak of ripeness, and I start my sauce-making (much to my son, Devon's delight!) Of course I chose one of the hottest days to go over to "Cooper's CSA Farm & Maze" and pick the lovely San Marzano tomatoes that Steve Cooper has grown specifically for friend Kathy and I nearly died! Hours later, the tomatoes on the bottom of the bushel basket were still warm from the sun's rays!
I am fairly new to the sauce-making game and since my son is pretty much a purist, I tend to make a basic sauce to which I can add roasted garlic, fresh herbs, sauteed ground beef, etc. to depending on what recipe I am using the sauce for. We ran out of my homemade sauce fairly early in the season and so I decided that I would make a whole bushel-worth of sauce and then go over this week to pick another half bushel for diced tomatoes....I got 11 Litre jars and one 500mL jar out of the bushel.
Here are some tips that I have picked up on the way and am passing on to you budding sauce-makers out there!
  1. Get a pot of water to a rolling boil, cut an "x" in the bottom of each tomato and drop them into the pot. (I found that these tomatoes needed to be in the boiling water for 3 to 5 mins. to make the skins peel off easily).
  2. I never seem to have enough ice on hand so when I create my ice bath in the sink, I use the ice packs that I keep in my freezer - they work just as well and are reusable! Keep the tomatoes in the ice bath for at least 3 to 5 minutes so they're cool enough to handle!!!
  3. After peeling the skins off and trimming the stem end, I seed the tomatoes over a sieve which is placed over a large bowl. This way the tomato water from the juicy seeds drips into the bowl. When your tomatoes are in the pot, just add the tomato water to the pot for a super-flavourful sauce!
  4. Instead of transferring hot tomatoes to a blender or food processor, I just use my immersion blender to puree up the tomatoes as they are cooking.
  5. Reduce your tomatoes by half for thick sauce and a 1/3 for thinner sauce. Make sure that you don't have the heat too high otherwise they will scorch to the bottom of the pot. If you feel that it is taking too long or your pot is too full, transfer half the mixture to another pot so the sauce doesn't have to cook for too long and you risk scorching.
  6. BE CAREFUL when you are transferring the sauce into the jars - I gave myself a nasty burn on my hand when some of the sauce splashed back out of the jar....thank goodness for "Traumeel"!!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Raspberry & Custard Tart

I was invited to my friend Kathy's for an end of the summer dinner, so I offered to make my "Roasted Corn and Dill Potato Salad", as well as this delicious-looking dessert!!! This recipe comes from the LCBO's "Food & Drink ~ Summer 2010" magazine. It's actually quite easy...perhaps I am more of a baker than I thought!!!

1 cup milk
1 tsp real vanilla extract
3 free-range egg yolks
3 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 baked sweet pastry shell (9")
2 cups raspberries
1/2 cup redcurrant jelly (I only had cherry and it worked fine)
1 tbsp sweet wine or brandy
  • Heat milk in a heavy pot over medium heat until simmering. Remove from heat and add vanilla.

  • Whisk together egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until well combined. Stir in flour.

  • Whisk milk mixture into egg yolks and return to pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Pour custard into a mixing bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin forming. Cool.

  • Slowly melt chocolate in a heavy pot over low heat. Remove form heat and brush the inside of the baked pastry shell with melted chocolate. Place in freezer to solidify the chocolate.

  • Pour cooled custard into shell. Arrange raspberries in circles on top of the custard.

  • Place redcurrant jelly and sweet wine in a small pot and boil for 1 minute. Cool until glaze is room temperature, but still liquid. Drizzle or brush glaze over the fruit and leave the tart in a cool place until ready to serve.