Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Flax & Sesame Multigrain Pizza Crust

This recipe looked so appealing to me because I had a strong desire to make our pizza-night meals more healthiful (I think that`s a word...). As much as I love traditional pizza, I love healthy pizza all the more. And a thick, chewy crust popping with a multigrain crunch? Even better. You can do a couple of different things with this recipe - it would yield about 8-10 6" personal crusts (which can be kept frozen for easy dinners down the road) or you can make a nice big traditional dough for a large sized pizza crust. Either way, just so you know, this recipe will make 2 `large` pizza doughs. So seedy. So grainy. Yum! Bon appétit!

1 1/2 c. hot water
1 T. yeast
1/3 c. olive oil
1/2 c. oatmeal
1/4 c. quinoa, uncooked
1/4 c. flaxseed
1 1/2 t. salt
1 egg white
1 c. whole wheat flour 2 c. white flour
1 T. poppy seeds
2 t. sugar
1 T. black sesame seeds

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast into water. Add olive oil and egg white, then add remaining ingredients, mixing in just enough flour to make the dough pliable, but not terribly sticky. Knead until elastic. Monitor your flour content. You may need to add more or less. Drizzle with olive oil, cover loosely with a flour sack, and allow to rise until double in bulk.

2. Press small portions of the dough into very thin, pizza-sized circles. Place onto a well oiled cookie sheet. Allow to rise 20-30 minutes, then bake in an oven heated to 400 degrees just until cooked (but not browned), about 5-6 minutes. Remove and top with desired toppings then return to oven to finish cooking. To freeze, allow cooked crusts to cool. Stack with parchment between each crust, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze. Frozen pizza’s will last up to 2 months in the freezer.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Venezuelan Creamy Rice Pudding

I love rice pudding. Absolutely love it. Whenever I'm home from hospital (ie. OFTEN these days!), it's my go-to food. I really could eat it morning, noon and night. This recipe comes from the Giles' cookbook from their time in Venezuela. It's pretty darn good. Be careful to stir, stir, stir your milky mixture as you cook it though so as not to burn your pudding. Nobody likes burnt rice pudding, trust me. The thing about making rice pudding is that you have to take your time, follow all the directions to a “T” and know your stove-top enough to be able to tell if the pudding is getting too hot or not hot enough. Having a nice, thick-bottomed pot will also work leaps and bounds in your favour. This recipe really does have a lot of stirring, so I tend to set up shop at the stove with a stool and a good book :) Today, however, I'm watching a movie on Netflix about an American man whose job is outsourced to India... it's fantastic. If you're looking for a fun movie to watch, check out "Outsourced". Bon appétit!

1 cup basmati rice
2 cups water
7 cups milk
4 cinnamon sticks + 1 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
Alternative additions: 1 tsp. vanilla, raisins, currents, rum, whipping or 1/2 and 1/2 cream for part of the milk, nutmeg, cardamom, fresh fruit etc. I tend to like my rice pudding pure and simple, but feel free to be creative!

1. In a large, heavy pot, boil your rice and water for 7-8 minutes.
2. Add the milk and cinnamon and boil again for another 15-16 minutes - stir frequently. VERY frequently.
3. Add sugar and cook for 30 minutes. Again, stirring very frequently.
4. Add salt and cook for another 2 minutes. Add your vanilla. Stir, stir, stir.
5. Remove from heat and cool. Yum!

Chicken Stuffed with Spinach & Ricotta

You will feel like a pro-star making this chicken, believe you me. Truly pro-star. This recipe is adapted from a Food Network recipe book that I picked up a couple of years back that has a 'mix and match' stuffed chicken recipe where you can mix up different potential stuffing ingredients (ex. cheese/tomato, feta/olive etc.). I definitely love this spinach and ricotta blend. It's so tasty. So, so tasty. I have made this recipe before using goat cheese instead of ricotta and both are delicious. To save some cooking time, you can pan-fry your chicken for a couple of minutes on each side before baking it. Bon appétit!

1 1/2 cups freshly chopped spinach (or 1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese or 1/2 cup goat cheese
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix ricotta/goat cheese, garlic, spinach, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; stir well to combine. Set filling aside.

2. Insert a pairing knife into the thickest part of 4 6-8oz chicken breasts (boneless skinless) to make 3" deep pockets. Stuff the breasts with your prepared filling. Rub olive oil on outsides of chicken breasts and season with salt and pepper.

3. Place on a rimmed baking sheet; roast until chicken is cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes. Another option is to pan-fry the chicken for 2-3 minutes each side (with toothpicks to stabilize) and then bake for about 15 minutes. Important thing is to check that your chicken is cooked to a minimum of 155F inside. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Mango Vinaigrette

In grade 10, I had the awesome experience of living with a wonderful little French family for 3 1/2 months. It was there that I was introduced to the fact that salad dressing didn't necessarily have to come out of a bottle. In fact, I don't think that I ever saw a container of Hidden Valley or Blue Ranch. It had never dawned on me that you could actually make your own salad dressings! Since then, I usually do make my own vinaigrettes with the ratio that I was taught by my French mom (2:1 vinegar to oil). You really do just have to play around with what you like though and what tastes good to you. This is a super tasty little vinaigrette that would also be good with peach or raspberries. I made it up in our little "magic-bullet" style blender (so easy!). I now feel inspired to post a few more of my favourite home-made salad dressings ... hopefully that will happen in the next couple of weeks. Bon appétit!

1 ripe mango
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
2-3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peel and chop mango away from pit and place in blender with lemon juice, and puree until smooth  (magic bullet-type blenders are perfect for this kind of thing). Transfer to a medium bowl, and whisk in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add red-pepper flakes, and season with salt and pepper. Add more vinegar if you want more zing. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Moroccan Eggplant

First off - I highly recommend you get past the downright awful looking little side picture.  The end result of actually making this neat little side dish will surely wow you. I will start this post by admitting that I am not a huge eggplant fan myself. I think that it's the texture mainly. The sponginess of the whole thing kind of weirds me out. I decided that I needed to broaden the Giles' vegetable palate this week though and thought that I'd check out a few of the cookbooks. This came up and I thought I'd give it a whirl. I was looking for something fun to serve up beside this Moroccan Chicken dish. The eggplant looks really greasy and gross but it's actually really sweet and tangy and syrupy like. Yummmmmmm. Nice to try something a little different every now and then!  Bon appétit!

(Serves 4 to 6 as a side)

2 small eggplants (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, pressed or very finely chopped
4 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 small spoonful harissa, or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ginger

1. Peel the eggplants, and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices. Brush both sides of the slices with olive oil.

2. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium to medium high-heat. Fry the eggplant, turning once, until golden brown. Set aside.

3. Remove the pan from the heat, and allow the pan to cool for a minute or two. Add the olive oil and the garlic, and leave the garlic to soften. When the aroma of the garlic has been released, add the honey, lemon juice, harissa, spices and salt to taste. Stir to blend.

4. Return the eggplant to the pan, and bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat. Cook the eggplant for about 10 minutes, or until the egpplant is tender and the sauce has a syrup-like consistency. Add a little water during the cooking if you feel it's necessary, but not so much that the eggplant will overcook while the liquids reduce.

Serve at room temperature.

Moroccan Spiced Chicken

I love, love, love playing around with spice mixtures. I also love it when I can find a recipe that uses cardamom. Who doesn`t love getting out the mortar and pestle?  This recipe uses an absolute plethora of moroccanish spices and the end result is so yummy. I am home recovering from another round of back surgery and have my mum looking after me. It was a lot of fun to make this dish together. We paired it with some super tangy Moroccan eggplant (recipe to follow!). Yum. We altered this recipe a tad so that you have some left-over marinade to serve with the chicken as ours ended up being a little dry. Enjoy! Bon appétit!

1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
Juice of 1 lime
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1. Place Greek yogurt, lime juice, honey, turmeric, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, cardamom, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl and mix until well combined. Reserve about a 1/4 cup of marinade to serve with your chicken later on. Spread remainder of marinade evenly over chicken breasts in a shallow dish and refrigerate for an hour.

2. Heat oven to 350˚F. Heat a nonstick grill pan over medium high heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray and sear chicken for 2 minutes per side or until browned. Place chicken in a large rectangular dish and bake with your leftover marinade at 350˚F for 8 to 10 minutes or until cooked through and no longer pink in the center. Makes 4 servings.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ancho Honey Chicken with Tropical Rice

This chicken was so, so, SO incredibly yummy. We were blown away with the yumminess of it all. You just have to try it. Just have to. Definitely a lot of summer flavours, which made it perfect for a freezing cold January in Ottawa evening!

I also never, ever do anything exciting with rice. I am truly a plain Jane when it comes to rice so this recipe definitely called for a step outside of the old rice comfort zone.  End result was pretty darn tasty if I don`t say so myself. You will end up with lots of left over fruit (1/2 a cantaloupe and a good deal of pineapple too) so have some fun and make yourself up a nice big fruit salad for later deserts and lunches. Scour your kitchen for any other left over fruit you might have on hand - I added some chopped oranges, a handful of blueberries and more lime with a sprinkle of sugar. Très bon appétit!

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Worchershire sauce
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt (1/2 tsp. sprinkled directly on chicken)
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts

Tropical Rice:
2 cups finely chopped cantaloupe
2 cups finely chopped fresh pineapple
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
4 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup toasted slivered almonds
2 tablespoons canola oil
Juice of one lime
3/4 teaspoon salt

1. To make the chicken, heat oven to 350˚F. Place brown sugar, honey, vinegar, Worchershire sauce, ancho chile powder, cayenne pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until brown sugar is dissolved and mixture has reduced to 1/4 cup. Sprinkle chicken breasts with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place chicken breasts on a grill pan heated over medium high heat and sear chicken breasts on both sides for 1 to 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Place seared chicken in a 13×9-inch baking dish and use a pastry brush to rub half the glaze on all sides of the chicken breasts. Bake at 350˚F for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and baste with remaining glaze. Bake an additional 2 minutes at 350˚F or until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the center.

2. Meanwhile, make the tropical rice by mixing cantaloupe, pineapple, red pepper, and onion in a large bowl. Remove 1/3 cup fruit mixture for chicken garnish, if desired. Stir in rice, toasted almonds, canola oil, lime juice, and salt until well mixed.

3. To serve, place rice on 4 plates and top each with a piece of chicken and fruit garnish. Makes 4 servings.

- recipe cred to Bake, Batter & Bowl  :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Spaghetti Carbonara with Leeks & Lemon

Any time I make carbonara, I feel like I'm having a massive freak-out in the kitchen. I'm always afraid that if I don't move fast enough, the egg won't set and I'll have runny, gooey pasta. I definitely recommend having a buddy on hand for this dish. That, or have everything right ready to go so that you can move quick, quick, quick when you're mixing the egg mixture into the pasta. Quite a yummy dish this one is. Do try to get the real parmesan cheese - you won`t regret it. Bon appétit!

Coarse salt and ground pepper
6 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
4 leeks (white and light-green parts only), halved lengthwise, rinsed well, and thinly sliced
3/4 pound short pasta, such as campanelle or orecchiette
2 large eggs
1/2 ounce Parmesan, grated (1/4 cup), plus more for serving (optional)
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, coarsely chopped

1. Set a large pot of salted water to boil. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from skillet. Add leeks, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until leeks are golden brown, about 10 minutes.

2. Add pasta to pot and cook according to package instructions. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, Parmesan, and lemon zest and juice. Whisk 1/4 cup pasta water into egg mixture.

3. Drain pasta and immediately add to egg mixture, along with bacon, leeks, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Sprinkle with more cheese if desired and serve immediately.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Oven-Baked Zucchini Chips

The temperature in our house is currently 16C. Brrr. Our furnace seems to be slowly dying so it feels so good to be working in the kitchen and opening a 425F oven for these little guys. This is definitely a different, fun-for-the-little-guys way to make zucchini. Usually I just pan fry my zucchini with a little bit of olive oil so this was quite the experience! Very yummy. Bon appétit folks :)

1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
sprinkle of fresh thyme
2 tablespoons milk
2 1/2 cups (1/4-inch-thick) slices zucchini (about 2 small)
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 425°. Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Place milk in a shallow bowl.

2. Dip zucchini slices in milk, and dredge in breadcrumb mixture. Place coated slices on an ovenproof wire rack coated with cooking spray; place rack on a baking sheet. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes or until browned and crisp. Serve immediately.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Chicken & Kale Flaky Hand Pies

Holy crap these were tasty little buggers. Go Martha go! Definitely a kick in the butt to get them out and on your plate, but the end result was so darn good. I had this big plan to go on a 'kale kick' after having tasting it as a delicious side prepared by my bro' in law's lovely gf over Christmas, but was super bummed to discover that the grocery store was fresh out. So, in the end, these ended up being "Chicken & Spinach" hand pies. Going for fresh thyme is a MUST. The pastry turned out beautifully but with a lot of huffing and under-breath cussing on my part, hence the "I bleepin' hate making bleepin' pastry. Bleep bleep" FB post. I actually also forgot to add the cheese when making the pastry but it was delish nonetheless. Bon appétit!!

Flaky Pie Dough recipe doubled and 1 cup shredded cheddar added with flour, or store-bought
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 leek (white and light-green parts only), halved lengthwise, cut crosswise 1/4 inch thick, and rinsed well
1 small bunch black (Tuscan) kale, tough stems removed, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, leaves
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 splash of whipping cream
1 cup cooked chicken, torn into bite-size pieces (about 5 ounces)
1 large egg, lightly beaten

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Divide dough in half. On a floured sheet of parchment paper, roll out one half to a 14-inch round. With a knife or biscuit cutter, cut out six 4 1/4-inch circles (rerolling dough once if necessary) and transfer, on parchment, to a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, cutting out six (larger) 4 1/2-inch rounds. Chill rounds on sheet until ready to use.

2. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high. Add leek and cook, stirring, until soft, 3 minutes. Add kale and thyme, season with salt and pepper, and cook until kale wilts, 3 minutes. Sprinkle flour over mixture and stir to combine. Add broth and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring often, until mixture thickens, 2 minutes (I added that splash of whipping cream here). Transfer to a medium bowl, season with salt and pepper, and stir in chicken. Let cool slightly.

3. Place a heaping 1/4 cup chicken mixture on each of the smaller dough rounds, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Brush edges with egg and top with larger dough rounds; using fingers, press edges firmly to seal. Cut a small vent in each pie. Bake until browned and crisp, 30 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through. Let cool slightly on sheets on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Uber Yums Black Beans

This could not be any easier and is a delicious side dish for any "south of the border" food you might be serving up. I am used to black beans looking like a goobey mess but these guys are different. I'm also used to beans taking several hours to cook up - these guys only take 10 minutes. If that. We`ve also made these up to serve on tacos (they were a big hit!). Do enjoy! Bon appétit!

Take a can of red kidney or black beans beans and rinse em'  out really well. Put them in a medium hot pan with some olive oil (maybe 2 tbs?).  Turn them around in the pan for a minute. Add 2-3 cloves of garlic (I like a lot of garlic), about 1 tsp oregano and salt and pepper. Heat the beans through and they are done. So good.

Salted Tilapia with Crispy Zucchini Ribbons

I can imagine that you're probably thinking that this dish is too indulgent looking to be good for you. Well, let me tell you. It's too indulgent tasting, too. A perfect combination of tender-crunchy textures and salty goodness. Definitely recommend splurging and getting your fish fresh from the fish market rather than buying frozen. Trust me. I should note that I had a little trouble frying up the zucchini, but it was all really tasty in the end. You just have to move quickly (or better yet, cook with a buddy) or else you may end up with burnt zukes. Yummy dish all around. Bon appétit!

2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 pound tilapia
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
salt & pepper to taste

Heat up a grill pan over medium high heat, with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in the pan. Use a potato peeler to shave the zucchini and yellow squash into long ribbons. Salt and pepper the zucchini ribbons, then lay them flat into your hot oil. Don't crowd them in your pan! Too many inside your pan will keep them from getting crispy, and they simply aren't as delightsome when they are mushy. Grill until golden brown on one side, flip and grill on the second side until golden brown and crispy.

Remove the zucchini ribbons, melt the second tablespoon of coconut oil, and place the tilapia in your pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss a bit of dried thyme on top, as well. Grill on both sides until the fish is white and flaky. Serve on top of Crispy Zucchini Ribbons. Enjoy!

Recipe cred to Cheeky Kitchen

Flaky Pie Dough

Just a nice little flaky pie dough recipe I like to use (from Martha). I`m planning on making some little hand pies for dinner this week out of kale and chicken (recipe to come!!) and thought I`d share this yummy recipe that seems to work well every time. Bon appétit!

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup ice water

1. In a food processor, pulse flour and salt to combine. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining.

2. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons ice water; pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add up to 2 tablespoons more water, 1 tablespoon at a time).

3. Form dough into a 1-inch-thick rectangle, wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, 1 hour (or up to 3 days).

Cashew Chicken with Broccoli

Next I bring you a nice, simple recipe for those crazy mid-week dinners. This recipe is as easy as can be to make, and tastes even better than take-out. If you're feeling like adding extra veggies, try stir-frying celery with the chicken or toss some water chestnuts in with the broccoli. Super easy, super nutty. Enjoy! Bon appétit!

1 pound chicken breast tenders, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon chicken bouillon powder
4-6 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3-1/2 cup water
2-3 cups broccoli florets, cut into bite-sized hunks
1/2 cup salted cashews, toasted
2 package Udon noodles, cooked according to package directions with 1/4 cup of soy sauce tossed into the water as they cook

1. In a wok, heat the olive oil to medium heat then toss the chicken into the oil. Stir fry until cooked through. 

2. Add the garlic and allow it to cook for a moment before sprinkling the mixture with the chicken boullion powder and soy sauce. 

3. In small cup, whisk together the cornstarch and water (use more water if you like a thinner sauce, or less water for a thicker sauce). Pour this mixture over your chicken, stir to coat, then add the broccoli. Cover and cook just until the broccoli is a bright green. 

4. Toss in the cashews, lightly drizzle with some sesame oil and serve over Udon noodles or rice. Enjoy!