Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chicken Zucchini Pistou with Penné Pasta

First and foremost: What is Pistou you ask? I didn’t know either. Turns out that it is French pesto. You`ll definitely need a food processor for making this dish - something we invested in a couple of years back and couldn`t do without. That poor thing has been so over used that it now requires firmly inserting a pen (or BBQ skewer as is often handy) to engage the machine at all times while you`re using it.  

This dish was really yummy. Especially eating it with such wonderful ladies. The flavours are really rich yet subtle. Any cooking with cream is truly special. Truly truly. Pour yourself a big glass of wine and if you are really inspired make a salad and call it dinner. Bon appétit!

Ingredients (for 4):
4 teaspoons olive oil
2 1/2 cups sliced zucchini
1 cup packed basil leaves
1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons toasted pine nuts
4 chopped garlic cloves
1 cup chopped chicken
2 cups chopped Vidalia (or other sweet onion)
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
8 ounces penne pasta
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pepper

1. Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the zucchini and cook until tender and golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and cool.

2. Put 1/4 cup of the cooked zucchini, basil, 1/4 cup cheese, pine nuts and garlic in the food processor.

3. Add the rest of the olive oil to the pan and add the onions. Cook for 10 minutes until the onions are brown. 1/2 way through, add the chicken and cook through. Cook the pasta in 6 quart of salted water. Reserve 1/3 cup cooking liquid to add to the processed zucchini mixture. Add the cooking liquid to the food processor and pulse until smooth.

4. Add the zucchini back to the pan with the pasta and the processed zucchini mixture. Add the heavy cream and salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes until everything is heated through, maybe 22 minutes. Taste for seasonings (you may need more salt and more garlic... I did).

5. Pour the pasta into a big bowl and garnish with some basil leaves, pine nuts, and cheese.

- recipe & photo cred to Baked Bree

Sunday, October 16, 2011

General Tso`s Chicken

This dish might be what you'd call a DIY, healthified makeover of the General Tso' Chicken that you are used to seeing in your Chinese takeout box. Normally the chicken is coated in the egg white/cornstarch mixture and deep fried till golden brown. This version however is pan fried in a drizzle of oil olive oil until crisp and tender, making it not only quick enough to eat on a weeknight, but healthy enough to eat as often as you like. The fact that it requires no special ingredients, pastes or sauces makes it a great last minute dinner too. You could swap out the snow peas for whatever veggies you have on hand in your fridge or freezer. Just make sure you don`t skip out on the fresh ginger either. It gives the dish a real ZIP. If you`ve never cooked with fresh ginger before, give it a try - you`ll never go back to making stir frys with out it. Really, really yummy. Bon appétit!

Ingredients (serves 4):
1 1/4 cups long-grain brown rice
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 pound snow peas, trimmed and halved crosswise
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated and peeled
3 tablespoons light-brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
2 large egg whites
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as safflower

1. Cook rice according to package instructions. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1/2 cup cold water until smooth. Add snow peas, garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce, and red-pepper flakes; toss to combine, and set aside.

2. In another bowl, whisk together egg whites, remaining 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add chicken, and toss to coat.

3. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Lift half the chicken from egg-white mixture (shaking off excess), and add to skillet. Cook, turning occasionally, until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate; repeat with remaining oil and chicken, and set aside (reserve skillet).

4. Add snow-pea mixture to skillet. Cover; cook until snow peas are tender and sauce has thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Return chicken to skillet (with any juices); toss to coat. Serve with rice.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Peachy Pies (x-Small version)

During last week's pie bake-fest I ended up with a small amount of left over pie dough (certainly not enough for an entire pie but definitely too much just to throw out ... or eat). Into the freezer it went and made a second appearance at last night's dessert. My favourite pie crust recipe can be found ici. This particular pie is a little rustic and super simple. And how much fun is it to have an entire pie all to yourself? Bon appétit!

- Pie dough
- sliced peaches (3-4?)
- sugar
- lemon juice

1. Roll pie dough on a lightly floured surface. Cut dough to fit your individual tart shells. Fill shells with dough.

2. Thinly slice peaches and sprinkle with sugar and a dash of lemon juice (prevents the fruit from browning). Fill your individual pie shells with layers of peaches.

3. Bake at 350F until the crust browns (... 20 minutes - 1/2 hour?).  Enjoy!

Potato Chive Soup

It's officially fall when you start making soup on a Saturday afternoon. It`s great to prepare some lunches for the upcoming week and I am trying to use up all of the precious remainders of the onion corner in my garden. The quantities in this recipe are loosely guessed. That`s the great thing about making soup though - every batch will be different. This soup is creamy, comforting, bursting with so much flavour, and very good for you too (minus the sour cream, butter and cream... okay, so it`s not that good for you, but it is flavourful!)! Oh, not to mention inexpensive to make, which is always a bonus. Bon appétit!

8 medium sized russet potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 sweet potato (if you have one)
4 cups canned chicken broth
1/2 cup (about) cream (I used 1/2 & 1/2)
2 tablespoon butter
1 onion
handful of chopped green onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1/3 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper
Additional sour cream & bacon bit for serving

1. Sauté onion and green onions in 1 tbs. of butter until soft in a large soup pot. Pour in broth and chopped potatoes. Cover and simmer until potatoes are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Let mixture cool slightly.

2. Purée potato mixture in batches in blender or processor - or, if you`re lucky, you own a fantastic hand blender (I`m one of those lucky people!). Return soup to saucepan. Stir in enough cream to thin to desired consistency. Mix in additional butter and chives. Bring to simmer. Remove from heat and mix in 1/3 cup sour cream. Season with salt and pepper. Serve, passing additional sour cream & bacon bits separately.

Overnight Curried Honey Chicken

This chicken recipe is perfect for those days when you know you won`t have a lot of energy to prepare dinner. While making the night before, quickly throw together the marinade for this recipe (seriously, the first step takes no more than 5 minutes). Then when dinner rolls around the next day, put the chicken in the oven and throw some green beans in the steamer, maybe a salad, and dinner is ready. This chicken is my favorite combination of sweet and savory. The marinade becomes a sauce and the chicken is incredibly tender. Really, you need to make this. Bon appétit!

1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon curry powder
4 Tablespoons soy sauce
4 chicken breasts

1. Mix together the honey, mustard, soy sauce, and curry powder.

2. This is so easy, it is ridiculous. Put the chicken and marinade in a plastic bag or glass container and marinate overnight.

3. The next day, put the chicken and the marinade in a pan and bake in a 350 degree oven for one hour covered with tin foil.

4. Uncover the chicken and baste. Cook another 15 minutes. Slice and top with some of the remaining sauce.

- recipe cred to Baked Bree

Fish Tacos with Salsa Verdé (with Tilapia)

I'll be the first to admit that when I first heard of "fish tacos" my stomach simply recoiled at the thought. In my mind, it just didn't seem natural. This recipe, however, was the exact opposite of what I think of when I think of fish tacos. These are light. Fresh tasting. Clean. Flavourful. They were so good that Jeremy and I were scraping the bits from the bottom of the pan.

A couple of very important notes about this recipe:
- I highly recommend you use tilapia fillets (or some other kind of hard white fish)
- Admittedly, I found the jalapeno/salad mixture very, very spicy - that was because I used a scotch bonnet from my garden and just about cried (ok, maybe I cried a little). So just becareful with the heat level of the pepper you are using.

Enjoy, and, as always... Bon appétit!

1 bunch fresh cilantro (roots and thick stems removed)
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
Handful of greens (arugula, baby spinach etc.)
3 scallions, thinly sliced
Making the salsa verdé was super easy with
the food processor
1/2 jalapeno chile (ribs and seeds removed, for less heat), minced
1 1/2 pounds skinless tilapia fillets (about 4)
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
12 corn tortillas (6 inches each)
Avocado (for serving)

1. Heat broiler, with rack set 4 inches from heat. In a blender, combine cilantro, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 tablespoons oil, and 2 tablespoons water; season with salt and pepper (I also added a bit of cumin to the mix too). Blend until pureed. Set salsa aside.

2. In a small bowl, mix together remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice, remaining tablespoon oil, greens, scallions, and jalapeno (see notes above re: jalapeno!); season with salt and pepper. Set salad aside.

3. Place tilapia on a rimmed baking sheet; season with coriander, salt, and pepper. Broil until opaque throughout, 4 to 5 minutes; break up into chunks (we bbq'ed it instead).

4. Meanwhile, using tongs, hold tortillas over a gas flame until lightly toasted, about 30 seconds per side (or wrap stacked tortillas in damp paper towels, and microwave on high until warm and soft, about 1 minute). To assemble, fill tortillas with fish, jalapano/greens salad and avocado; top with salsa verde and fold.

- recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Buffalo Wing Sauce

Mmmmm wings. How can you go wrong? This wing sauce is a super nice blend of sweet and hot, to make it you will need a few ingredients that you can buy at about any grocery store. If you're not a fan of heat, simply go easy on the Franks. We split the recipe in 1/2 for 2 people, but if you are 4, I imagine you'll be good with the amounts listed below. This recipe will make about a cup and a half of sauce.  Below are easy step by step instructions and the difficulty level is rated very easy, so if you want to grab your measuring cups, spoons and a small sauce pan I will meet you down at step 1.

1 cup of Franks Red hot.
1 stick of butter or margarine
1 tsp of minced garlic or fresh garlic cloves.
1/4 cup of light brown sugar (less or more depending on how sweet you like it), I would recommend starting out with less, you can always add more.
1 tablespoon of worcestershire sauce.

1. OK, this is the most difficult step and most important step so listen close. You need to pour Franks red hot sauce into a measuring cup until you reach 1 cup.

2. I know you didn't have a problem with step 1 so we will continue, pour the cup of hot sauce into the small sauce pan. Congratulations! we can move on

3. The butter, you can use real butter or margarine, I choose to cut the butter into 8 slices just because it melts a whole lot easier, so go ahead and slice up your cold butter and add it to the wing sauce in the pan.

4. We now add the brown sugar to the sauce pan. I would start out with 1/8 cup of brown sugar if you want just a touch of sweet with more heat, however I use 1/4 cup. You don't have to pack the 1/4 cup down just fill it up farley loose , level it out and pour it into the wing sauce.

5. Now you are ready to add the 1 teaspoon of minced garlic and the tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce to the sauce pan, once complete you can place the sauce pan on the stove at low to medium heat, stirring frequently. Make sure you don't leave unattended or the wing sauce will scorch and you will have to go back to step 1 or order out for diner because you just ruined the sauce!

6. You will want to stir the wing sauce on low to medium heat until you reach a slight rolling boil, once at boil stir frequently for about 2 minutes, you will notice the sauce changing color a little and slightly expanding this is good. After about 2 minutes you may turn off the heat.

7. You will now want to make sure the heat is turned off and the sauce pan is removed from the stove if you are using an electric stove. Set a timer for about 30 minutes and cover the sauce pan.