Sunday, November 8, 2015

Cheese Tortellini Soup

As always, I needed a fast recipe because I arrived home late (story of my life it seems!)  Besides having to pick up the tortellini on my way home (I grabbed these gluten free tortellini from Zehrs), I had everything else on hand! Fast, easy, inexpensive and tasty - try it!!

1 package of refrigerated fresh tortellini
6 cups of chicken broth
1 large can of diced tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 handfuls of fresh spinach or arugula
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • Heat oil over medium high in a large pot.  Add onions and saute until golden brown.  Add stock and bring to a boil.
  • Once boiling, add tortellini.  Reduce heat to medium and cook until al dente.
  • Add tomatoes and juice, arugula, dried basil and ground pepper.  Simmer until arugula is wilted.
  • Serve with Parmesan grated over top, if desired.
  • ENJOY!

Butternut Squash and Chickpea Curry

I needed something that would be quick and easy, include ingredients that I had on hand, and would make enough for a couple of dinners...Jamie Oliver to the rescue!  This recipe popped up on my Twitter feed and it completely fit the bill.  My only complaint is that it isn't hot enough for me, but my kids enjoyed it (and I just added more chili to mine!)  For someone who doesn't love leftovers; I ate this all week and enjoyed it more and more as the flavours deepened!!

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced into 1" chunks
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 fresh red Thai chili sliced
1 bunch of fresh cilantro, leaves removed and stems finely diced
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 large can of diced tomatoes
2- 400g cans of coconut milk
2-400g cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • Melt coconut oil over medium high heat in a large skillet.  Add ginger, garlic, red chili and onion.  Stir frequently until golden brown.  Add mustard seeds, curry, and cilantro stems.  Saute until crispy.
  • Add the turmeric, can of tomatoes with juice, and coconut milk.  Bring to a boil and add squash and chickpeas.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer until tender and sauce has thickened (approximately 25 to 30 mins).
  • Serve over a bed of basmati rice.
  • ENJOY!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Sauteed Leeks with Cherry Tomatoes

After a summer of cooking familiar recipes, I felt inspired by the fall-like weather (my FAVOURITE season!) and the load of root veggies and produce in my kitchen.  While the chicken was baking and the root veggies roasting alongside a sweet potato that was baking, I decided to whip up a quick side dish!  The flavours work well together; sweetness of the leeks and tomatoes, saltiness of the cheese, bite of the black pepper and the mellow flavour of the coconut oil!!  Try it - you won't be disappointed! 

1 leek
10 small cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp grated Gruyere
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Trim the leek by removing the root end and topping it just where the leek changes from light green to darker (the leaves become woody in texture at that point).  Slice the leek in half lengthwise and rinse under running water; fanning the layers with your fingers to ensure all sand is washed away.
  • Slice the leeks into thin half-moons.  Set aside.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the coconut oil. When it melts add the leeks.
  • Remove any stems from the cherry tomatoes. Add to the skillet.
  • Keep stirring the leeks and tomatoes to prevent burning.  After a minute or so, gently press on the tomatoes one at a time, with the back of the spoon.  This causes the skins to split and all the lovely juices to run out into the pan and mix with the leeks.
  • Continue stirring until the leeks are tinged golden brown and are transluscent.
  • Place in a serving dish.  Top with the grated Gruyere and ground pepper.
  • ENJOY!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Rib Dry Rub and BBQ Sauce

Pork ribs

Friends of ours hold an annual rib cook off where we all compete for first place and bragging rights!  The dry rub and BBQ sauce that we came up with this year only got us 2nd place at the rib cook off, but 1st place at our family table.  They work perfectly for both pork and beef ribs - so if you are a lover of a traditional BBQ sauce flavour with your ribs, this is for you!!!
Beef ribs

Ingredients (Dry Rub)
3 tbsp Kosher salt
2 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp packed, dark brown sugar
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp hot paprika
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion salt
2 tsp ground mustard
1tsp black pepper
Ingredients (BBQ Sauce)
3 tsp oil
1 finely diced cooking onion
2 finely diced garlic cloves
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp blackstrap molasses
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 large racks of beef or pork ribs

BBQ sauce prior to pureeing

Pureed BBQ sauce - YUMMY!

  • Pat ribs dry with paper towel.  Flip rack over so back side of the ribs is facing up.  Using a butter knife, gently ease the thin silverskin from the back of the bones.  Using a paper towel, grasp the silverskin and pull off of the bones and discard.  This will ensure your ribs are more tender and cook evenly.
  • Combine all ingredients for the dry rub and rub the back, front and edges of the ribs thoroughly.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours (24 hours is recommended)
  • Remove ribs from fridge and bring to room temperature. Tightly wrap ribs in foil and place in a 250F oven on a cookie sheet, for 2 to 3 hours (pork ribs), or 3 to 4 hours (beef ribs).
  • Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil and saute the onions for the sauce over medium low heat until golden brown.  Add garlic and stirring constantly to prevent burning, saute for approximately 5 minutes longer.
  • Add rest of ingredients, combine and simmer for 10 mins.  Let cool slightly and put into a blender.  Puree until smooth.
  • After the ribs have cooked in the oven for the desired amount of time, open the foil and brush ribs all over with the BBQ sauce.
  • Place on a BBQ grill over medium heat, or back into the oven.  As the sauce caramelizes, brush more on and remove from heat.  
  • Let the rack rest for 10 mins before cutting into either one or two bone servings.  
  • Serve with a side dish of the BBQ (in case anyone wants saucier ribs!!)
  • ENJOY!
*I have found that stating the ribs in the oven and finishing on the grill provides not only the best flavour, but fall off the bone ribs!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Beefy Breakfast Bake

I found this recipe in "Taste of Home" magazine and it is delicious not only for breakfast, but paired with a salad for lunch or dinner!  This protein-packed dish will satisfy any hunger!!

1lb lean ground beef
2 tsp onion powder,
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground sage
red pepper flakes
1 pkg frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
4 cups frozen, diced hashbrown potatoes
14 large eggs
1 cup ricotta cheese (or soft goat's cheese)
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp black pepper
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/3 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • Preheat oven to 350F.  In a  large skillet, saute the beef with onion powder, 1/2 tsp salt, garlic poweder, sage and pepper flakes over medium heat until no longer pink.  Break the beef up into crumbles with the spoon.  Stir in spinach and remove from heat.
  • Spread potatoes in a greased 13 x 9 baking dish.  Top with beef mixture.
  • In a large bowl whisk together eggs, ricotta, milk, black pepper, and remaining salt; pour over top of the beef.  Sprinkle with Cheddar and top with tomatoes.
  • Bake, uncovered for 45 to 50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the centre comes out clean.
  • Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting into squares and serving.
  • ENJOY!

Cobb Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing

I think my favourite salad is a Cobb Salad simply because it has so many ingredients that I love all put together in such a colourful and beautiful display!  Traditionally this is served with a creamy dressing, but this lighter vinaigrette is so delicious that you won't imagine putting anything else on top of your salad!!

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
3/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp dried mustard powder
3/4 cup of grapeseed or avocado oil
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large container of mixed greens (choose one with 'sturdier' leaves like romaine, kale and endive)
2 baked chicken breasts, diced
2 medium tomatoes, diced (I used a mixture of a small yellow,red and orange tomatoes for colour)
3 hard boiled eggs, sliced
1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
6 strips of bacon, cooked and diced

  • In a blender combine the first 8 ingredients for the dressing.  Slowly add the oils in a steady stream.  Place in a serving container and set aside.
  • Cover a large serving platter with the mixed greens.  Arrange the chicken, tomatoes, eggs, cheese and bacon over the greens in rows. Grind black pepper over top.
  • Serve with the dressing and ENJOY!

All-In-One Skillet Breakfast

This breakfast is not only super-filling, but it is an entire breakfast all in one skillet!  Easy to make for a Sunday brunch, or even a weeknight meal.

8 bacon strips, finely diced
1 medium white onion, diced
900g bag of frozen, diced hashbrown potatoes
8 eggs,
Salt and black pepper
1 cup shredded cheese
  • In a large skillet (preferrably one with deeper sides to it), saute the bacon and onion over medium heat until the bacon is crisp.  Drain the pan reserving 1/4 cup drippings.
  • Stir in the hashbrowns.  Saute uncovered, over medium heat for 10 minute; stirring constantly to ensure the potatoes are golden brown.  Make 8 indentations in the potato mixture and crack an egg into each well.  Sprinkle with salt and black pepper.
  • Cook, uncovered on medium low for 10 minutes, or until egg whites are set.  Sprinkle with cheese and let stand until cheese is melted.
  • Serve and ENJOY!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sausage & Cannellini Bean Stew

We have been experiencing a deep freeze lately (- 44C with windchill...really?!) and weather like this calls for comfort foods such as stew.  I made this dish with ingredients we had on hand and it is a family favourite!  This is absolutely delicious when served with crusty bread or garlic toast!

1 tbsp grapeseed, or EVOO*
6 to 8 large Italian sausages (sweet or hot)
1 large onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and diced
2 tsp smoked paprika (sweet paprika would also work well)
1 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tsp freshly ground, black pepper
1 - 680mL jar of passata (strained tomatoes)*
1 cup beef stock
1 - 19 fl oz can of cannellini (white kidney) beans, undrained*
  •    Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat.  Place whole sausages in the pot and saute, turning frequently, until evenly browned but not fully cooked.  Remove sausages from pot and set aside on a cutting board.  Slice sausages into 1" chunks.
  • Place onions, garlic, and leeks in pot.  Saute until onions are translucent, stirring constantly to prevent garlic burning.
  • Add carrots, potatoes, paprika, thyme, bay leaves and pepper.  Saute 8 to 10 minutes.  Stir frequently.
  • Add passata, beef stock and beans.  Stir and bring to a boil.  
  • Reduce heat to medium low.  Add sausages, stir and cover. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove lid and cook for an additional 10 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Remove bay leaves.
  • Serve with crusty bread or garlic toast.  ENJOY!
*EVOO = extra virgin olive oil
*Passata should be a pantry staple - it is inexpensive and versatile!
*By not draining the beans, the stew will become thicker.

Spicy Asian Noodles with Chicken

We had decided to go out and have dinner at a local Vietnamese restaurant we all enjoy, but the snow was falling heavily and we chose to have dinner at home instead.  I searched the fridge and pantry and whipped up this delicious and quick dinner which was delicious and MUCH cheaper than going to a restaurant!!!

1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chopped cooked skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tsp sambal oelek
150g package rice vermicelli noodles
2 tbsp chopped cashews (or peanuts)
  • Heat sesame oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Add ginger and garlic to the pan and stir constantly for less than a minute.   
  • Mix soy sauce, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, and sambal oelek together in a small bowl.  Stir into skillet with chicken and green onions.  Saute for a minute.  Remove and place into large serving dish.
  • Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions.  Drain and rinse under cold water.  Add noodles to chicken and toss well to combine.  Sprinkle with cilantro and cashews.
  • Serve and ENJOY!