Sunday, April 3, 2011

Chicken Pasta with Apple Cucumber and Cheese

At the store, chicken breasts, cucumbers, apples, cheese and pasta were on sale, I decided to make a light Spring dish that welcomed the warmer weather. It is savoury, sweet and crunchy, and we both felt so satisfied after this quick and easy dinner I just had to share!

For the pasta:
Bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions. I used about 450g of fusilli, rotini or any twisted pasta will work well as they catch the marinate dressing on their ridges.

For the dressing:
While pasta is cooking, in a big bowl enough to hold all the ingredients of this dish, mix the following dressing, stir with big spoon until combined.
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp onion powder
1.5 tbsp of dried parsley flakes
generous dash of ground black pepper
pinch of chili flakes

For the pasta dish:
In the same bowl as the mixed dressing, add 1 chicken breast, pull apart with hands into smaller chunks about 0.5" pieces, leave skin on and remove bone. Click here for recipe on how to cook chicken.

Add 1 Ambrosia apple, chopped into 0.5" pieces (any sweet and crunchy apple will do, I used Ambrosia because it was the variety that was on sale)
Add half an English cucumber, chopped into bite size pieces, about 0.5".
Mix thoroughly until all ingredients added are covered with dressing.
After pasta is cooked, immediately drain water in colander, add drained pasta to bowl.

Add 1 cup of cheese cubes, about 0.5" in size, I used a mix of Havarti and Cheddar cheese, Mozzarella will go well.

Mix thoroughly and serve on plate. This makes 4 generous servings or 5 smaller portions. Enjoy!

Option:
For a non-dairy version, remove cheese. Although the dish does well with the cheese, the saltiness pairs nicely with the sweet apple.

Baked Mediterranean Chicken Breast

I've tried this recipe a couple of times and am happy with it so decided to share! Chicken breast baked in the oven with a homemade sauce that pairs well with bread or mashed potatoes, and steamed carrots and broccoli.
In a small bowl, add the following ingredients and mix well:
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp Italian salad dressing (any brand will do, I used President's Choice as this is what I have on hand)
1.5 tbsp rice vinegar
1.5 tbsp garlic powder
1.5 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp dried parsley flakes
dash of ground black pepper

Spread the mixture onto the chicken breasts, I used 2 breasts and left the skin on and bone in.

Place the marinated meat on a baking sheet that was lined with aluminum foil, leave to marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven at 400 F, when oven is ready, place the chicken in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Turn temperature down to 325 F and bake for 40 minutes more, or longer until cooked. Chicken is ready when juices run clear and meat is opaque when pierced with fork.

Chicken can be used in the following meal ideas:
1) for a complete dinner - pair with toasted and lightly buttered bread and steamed veggies, goes well with mashed potatoes.

2) for a chicken sandwich - a good idea for leftover chicken, if used the same day, wait for chicken to cool before handling, pull chicken apart into smaller pieces with hands, place in bowl and add enough mayonnaise (or whipped dressing, whichever you have on hand) to combine, spread on bread.

3) as an addition to pastas - see recipe here

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mango and Bean Salsa Salad

I honestly am not sure about the name for this salad I created for a late Sunday lunch but it went very well with cheese bread and is sweet and crunchy!In a bowl add the following dressing ingredients and stir with a spoon to mix well:
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp rice vinegar
0.5 tbsp of dried parsley flakes
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
a generous pinch of garlic powder
a generous pinch of sea salt
2 dashes of white pepper

Then add the following salad ingredients as you chop along:
1 carrot sliced to about 0.5" thick
1 red pepper roughly chopped into 0.5" pieces, I used red for its sweet taste
1 mango, peeled and roughly chopped into 0.5" pieces
1 can 540mL navy beans, drained and rinsed

Stir all ingredients gently with a spoon until thoroughly mixed. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Strawberry Salad

To welcome the warmer weather, I made a new salad with strawberries, apples and cucumbers! It pairs well with seafood, we had it with mussels and lightly buttered french bread.
In a bowl add the following ingredients:
1 English cucumber, roughly sliced, about 0.5" thick
1 apple, any kind will do, I used the gala variety for its sweetness and crunch
4 cups of strawberries, sliced in half
3 tbsp of apple cider vinegar

Toss gently with a spoon and serve.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mozzarella Tortilla and Salsa Salad

Sorry for the lack of recipes, I have been extremely busy! But earlier this week, I came up with a very quick and easy dinner. Prepared and served in less than 30 minutes, it's colorful and nutritious and satisfying!
For the salsa:
In a bowl that's big enough to hold all the following salsa ingredients, add:
one 341mL can of peaches and cream corn, drained
half of green pepper, chopped, about 0.5 cup
1 tomato chopped, any kind will do, I used a field tomato, about 1 cup
half of a 398mL can of sliced black olives, about 0.5 cup, drained
1 stalk green onion chopped
0.5 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Mix all ingredients gently and thoroughly with a big spoon and set aside while you prepare the tortillas.
For the tortilla:
Place a wheat tortilla on a plate, add 2 slices of mozzarella cheese about 0.25" thick. Position cheese on the tortilla as shown.
Fold tortilla over. You can fit 2 tortillas on the plate as shown, microwave them on full power for about 1 minute until cheese melts. I made 2 tortillas per person.
To serve: Place both tortillas on one side of the plate. Add one handful of spring salad greens, this can be purchased at the store, it's washed and ready to use. Top with a generous cupful of salsa and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Roasted Veggies with Sausage and Potato

We have been eating a lot of sandwiches and salads lately, it's time for a change! This is my first time roasting vegetables, I think it's a great way to cook the veggies and get the rest of dinner done at the same time.For the veggies:
Preheat oven to 400F.

I used 2 Asian eggplants and 1 big yellow pepper, chop all to similar sized pieces about 2" x 2".

In a bowl that is big enough to hold all the veggies, add the following dressing:
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
0.25 tsp montreal steak spice
1/8 tsp salt (or a generous pinch, vary amount to your taste)
2 dashes of white pepper

Mix all dressing ingredients until blended, add veggies and stir all together thoroughly until all pieces are well coated.
Use a baking sheet that's adequate to fit all veggies in one single layer, line it with aluminum foil for easy clean up. Place all veggies onto the sheet, bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes total, stirring every 10 minutes for even cooking.
For the sausages:
While veggies are roasting, in a separate pot, add the sausages. Any kind will do, I used some breakfast pork sausages from a farmer's market that has less salt and fat. Add enough water to cover the sausages and a pinch of thyme. Cover pot with lid and bring the water to boil. Turn heat down to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes.

Drain all water off from the pot, leaving the sausages in the pot. Add 0.5 tsp canola oil and turn heat to medium. Brown sausages lightly, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can cut each sausage into half like I did with a spatula or leave them whole.
For the potato:
While the veggies and sausages are cooking, prepare the potatoes. Clean the potatoes, brush the dirt away and rinse with water. I used red potatoes and chose the microwave method to cook it, a fast and easy way. Other methods that would be great for this dish are mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes although these will take longer.

To microwave the potato, pierce the potato all over with a knife about 1" deep 2" apart.

*****Be sure to pierce the potato as not doing so will result in the potato exploding in the microwave and you will have a fine mess to clean up!

Place potato on a plate and microwave on high for 4 minutes total per potato, flip over after 2 minutes. Adjust cooking times according to size and number of potatoes. Potatoes are done when pierced easily with a fork.

To serve:
Place some roasted veggies and sausages on plate together with a potato cut into half. Spread 0.5 tsp margarine on both sides and sprinkle on some dried parsley flakes. Enjoy!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Quick Dinner: Baked Fish Fillets on Salad Greens

The grocery trip took longer than expected, I grabbed a package of snapper fillets and prepared this quick and easy dinner once we got home.For the fish:
Preheat oven to 400 F.

In a non-reactive (glass or ceramic) baking dish, add the following marinating ingredients:
2 tbsp canola oil
1.5 tbsp apple cider vinegar
0.25 tsp dried dill
1 tsp lemon and herb seasoning
0.5 tsp italian seasoning

Mix all ingredients well with a spoon, add the snapper fillets. There are 3 medium ones in the package I bought, this amount is also adequate for 2 large fillets.

Marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes total, flip over after 10 minutes. Do not marinate longer as the fish will cook in the marinade. I think this marinade can be used for other kinds of fish, sole and halibut comes to mind.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Cooking times will vary depending on fillet size, check with a fork, juices should run clear and fish flakes easily. Do not overcook as fish will become tough.

For the salad:
On a plate, place 2 handfuls of spring salad mix, I bought the kind that's washed and ready to use. Top with cucumber slices 0.25" thick, I used 10 slices per plate. Add the cooked fish.

Add the following dressing ingredients in a bowl, this makes 2 servings:
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp white rice vinegar
0.5 tsp white sugar
dash of white pepper
pinch of chilli flakes (for a bit of bite)
1 tsp parsley flakes
salt to taste

Mix well with a spoon until sugar dissolves, dressing will taste better when left at room temperature for 10 minutes for flavors to combine.

When ready to serve, drizzle dressing all over fish and salad. Serve with lightly buttered french bread.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Spinach Cucumber Pita and Potato Salad

Another 3 part meal inspired by a new pita creation! Juicy cucumbers and spinach leaves make this pita a great summer edition, one to enjoy by the beach.The potato salad takes the longest so we'll start with that.
For potato salad:
Peel and cube 3 medium size russet potatoes into 1" cubes. Steam for 30 minutes in total, stir every 10 minutes. Potatoes are done when easily pierced with fork. Use fork to cut potato into smaller pieces. You can use a knife but the fork will do the job plus the rough cut gives the salad a rustic look.

In a bowl that will fit all the potatoes, add the following ingredients:
0.5 cup whipped dressing or mayonnaise, any brand will do, I used President's Choice, Miracle Whip will be a nice substitute
0.25 cup white rice vinegar, I used this particular kind because of it's milder taste, if you prefer a sharper taste, use white vinegar
0.5 tsp salt
0.5 tbsp sugar
1 tsp paprika
2 dashes of white pepper
1 tbsp dried dill

Stir all the dressing ingredients together with a spoon until well blended.

Add 4 hard boiled eggs that are finely chopped, stir to combine with dressing. Then add the steamed potatoes and 2 green onions finely chopped. Sitr until salad is combined. Refrigerate the salad until serving time. It will still be warm which is how we had it but it can be served thoroughly chilled.
For the tomato and onion salad:
Slice 2 roma tomatoes into 0.25" thick pieces. Finely chop some red onion, about 2 tbsp. In a small bowl add 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and 0.5 tbsp of balsamic vinegar, stir with a spoon until well combined.

To serve tomato salad, arrange slices on a plate, top with chopped red onion and drizzle with dressing.

For the pita:
On each pita, spread about 1 tbsp of cream cheese on half the pita. Add a small handful of spinach leaves (I bought the kind that's washed and ready to use), about 10 leaves. Then slice the cucumber thinly, about 0.125" thick. Place 8 slices of cucumber per pita.

Fold pita in half and serve with potato salad and tomato salad. Enoy!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mango Salsa

The juicy looking mango at the store caught my eye. I just had to bring it home and make this salsa that pairs well with blue corn nacho chips.
For the nacho chips:
Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Add a thin layer of blue corn nacho chips (any kind will do, yellow corn would be nice) Grate the mozzarella cheese, about 2 cups. Add 1/3 of the grated cheese to the chips, spread a thin layer. Do not add too much cheese on this bottom layer as it will soften the chips.

Next add a second layer of nacho chips, and spread the remaining cheese over top. I used 2/3 of one 454 g bag of chips in total.

Top nacho and cheese with 3 green onion that is finely chopped. Bake in oven for 15 minutes, cheese and green onion should be lightly browned.

For the mango salsa:
While nachos are roasting in the oven, peel 1 mango and trim the mango flesh off the seed. Be careful as mango is slippery. Next chop the mango flesh into 0.25" cubes.

Place mango in a bowl, add 1 roma tomato chopped into 0.25" cubes and 4 tbsp red onion finely chopped.

Then add the following dressing ingredients:
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
0.5 tsp salt
0.5 tbsp sugar
0.5 tsp chilli flakes (for a bit of heat)

Stir all ingredients until well combined. Serve with nachos.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Olympic Salad: Spinach with Apples Mushroom and Nuts

I whipped this salad up just in time to watch Olympic Hockey, Canada vs. Russia.In a bowl that's big enough to hold 4 generous handfuls of spinach leaves add:
4 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar (I highly recommend this vinegar as the sweet flavor pairs well with apple)
2 dashes of white pepper
pinch of salt

Stir salad dressing well with a spoon until salt is dissolved. Then add 1 sliced gala apple, 4 mushrooms sliced and stir to coat with dressing. Next add 4 generous handfuls of spinach leaves, I bought the kind that's washed and ready to use. Stir to coat leaves with dressing.

Spoon salad onto place, add a few cashew nuts, any nut will do, walnuts or pecans would be nice.

We had our salad with a black forest ham bunwich, lightly buttered with dijon mustard. It was great!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Olympic Dinner: Mushroom Pepper Bacon Pizza

Pizza is one dish we make together. The bread maker makes the dough, David shreds the cheese and we pull it all together. Having pizza to watch the games is a bonus but the leftovers for lunch the next day is always welcome.
For the dough: Follow the recipe here. Omit the garlic powder and use 2 tbsp of onion powder, add 1 tsp of chilli flakes. This recipe makes 2 pizzas.

For the pizza, top the dough off with the following ingredients:
-use 0.3 cup of pasta sauce per pizza, spread the sauce with the back of a spoon until dough is covered with sauce. You may need to add a little extra but do not use too much as dough will become soggy. Any pasta sauce will do, I used President's Choice mushroom and garlic.

-1 small orange pepper chopped, about 0.75 cup per pizza

-one 375mL can of mushrooms, drain off water and squeeze extra juice off with your hands a small amount at a time. One can to be used for both pizzas

-use 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese per pizza

-half a package of bacon for both pizzas, about 8 strips, roughly chopped and pan fry until crispy, drain off excess fast on paper towels. Cool bacon bits and when cool enough to handle, break bacon into smaller bits and sprinkle over top of pizza.

Preheat oven to 425 F and bake pizza for 20 minutes until top is lightly browned, refer to picture above. Slice pizza and enjoy the games!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Olympic Snack: Wings Asian Style

These wings are the highlight of the Olympic season, we had it as a side dish while we're watching the games.Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a no reactive bowl (non-metal, glass or ceramic) place the following marinating ingredients:
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp soya sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp white rice vinegar
1 tsp Asian chilli sauce (any kind will do, I used ABC brand)
0.5 tsp chilli flakes
pinch of salt
dash of white pepper

Stir all ingredients until sugar is dissolved. Add 12 pieces of chicken wings, I happen to grab a package with all drummettes. Stir wings together with sauce until well coated.

Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes, turning wings after 15 minutes.

Place marinated wings in an oven proof dish together with the marinate, bake for 40 minutes, turn wings over after 20 minutes.

When wings are baked, remove them from the oven. Turn oven off and turn broiler to medium setting. Line a broiler pan with aluminum foil and place wings in the pan without the juices. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Watch the wings closely, do not let them burn, lightly browned on the edges if what you're looking for, refer to the picture above.

Remove wings onto a plate, enjoy as is or... serve on a plate with rice or noodles with the juices drizzled on.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Easy Squash Soup

Using the squash I purchased at the Winter Farmers Market, I made this simple soup that warmed us up from the inside out.
In a pot, add 2 tbsp of canola oil, turn heat to medium. Add the following vegetables to the pot as you finish chopping each of them. Give the vegetable mixture a stir as you add them.

1 medium onion chopped to 0.5" pieces, about 1 cup
4 carrots chopped, about 4 cups
5 stalks celery chopped, about 3 cups
4 russet potatoes chopped to 1" pieces, about 5 cups
Add water to cover the vegetables, cover and cook at medium for about 10 minutes.

While the veggies are cooking, remove the skin and seeds of the squash, chop squash to 1" pieces and add this to the soup. I think I bought a buttercup squash (see last picture of this post) about 1.5 pounds, which gives about 4 cups.
Cover and cook at medium for 5 minutes more until all vegetables are tender, test with a fork.
Puree vegetable mixture with a blender until desired consistency. Be very careful of hot spits, I moved my hand blender slowly around the pot to avoid this.
Move the blender back and forth until soup is all pureed. Serve and enjoy!
I want to include the picture of the squash I used. It's the first time I used the buttercup variety and I like the taste very much, it's sweet and nutty. I omitted salt and pepper to the soup as I felt it's already flavorful.

I think the squash can be substituted with butternut squash although it would not be as sweet nor as nutty.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Braised Tofu with Mushrooms & Peppers

We felt so satisfied after having this meal I just had to share it with you! I made use of the oyster mushrooms purchased at the Winter Farmers Market.For the tofu: I used the same type of tofu as this post, and proceed with the following steps for a more flavorful tofu. Open the package of fresh tofu, there should be 2 blocks of tofu inside. Remove both blocks of tofu carefully, leaving the water behind. Cut each block into 4 pieces. Place all 8 pieces on a colander and let drain overnight in the fridge or 1 hour at room temperature. There will be some water collected, about half a cup or more. Discard water. Tofu is now ready for use.
(If tofu has been refrigerated, let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature to ready for pan fry.)

In a non stick pan, add 1 tbsp of canola oil and heat at medium high heat for 2 minutes. Cut each tofu piece (should be 8 pieces altogether) into 4 more pieces and place them in the pan. Do this for all the pieces.

Let tofu cook for 7 minutes. Check to see if the surface is golden brown as shown, if it is, flip it over and let cook for 7 minutes more. Continue to flip tofu over until water has evaporated and surfaces are golden brown, about 20 minutes in total. Set aside on a plate.
For the veggies: You will need
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- Oyster mushroom, cut each piece into roughly the same size about 3" sections so they cook evenly, about 2 cups total (if preferred you can use white button mushrooms, halve the big ones)
- 1 red pepper chopped into 2" pieces
- Chinese chives, about 0.75 cup chopped into 2" pieces, separate the white part with the green part (available in Asian grocery stores, substitute with 2 stalks green onion if unavailable)
In a pan, add 2 tbsp canola oil and heat at medium high heat for 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and the white part of the Chinese chives. Add 2 tbsp soya sauce, 2 tbsp oyster sauce, 0.25 cup water, 2 dashes of white pepper and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine all, lower heat to medium, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
Add red pepper, stir to combine. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
Add tofu, stir and cover to cook for 5 minutes.
Add the green part of the Chinese chives, stir to combine, cover and cook until the greens are wilted, about 2 minutes. Do not overcook the chives as they will become soggy. Spoon over a bed of rice and serve.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Grilled Cheese with Sausage Mushroom and Salad

I made this dish last night, another 3 part meal.
For the grilled cheese: I used our bread maker to bake the bread the night before, click here for recipe. Follow the list of ingredients, place them in the pan and start the Rapid Bake 2 setting to make the bread. We have a Black and Decker bread maker, this takes about 2 hours to finish. But any store bought bread will do, whole wheat or pumpernickel would be nice.

Preheat oven 375 F. Line the baking sheet with aluminum foil to catch the melted cheese and for quick clean up. Place the bread on the sheet, slice the cheddar cheese into 0.25" thick and place one cheese slice on each bread. Bake for 20 minutes.
For the sausage mushroom: Cook sausage first! (sorry no picture, it turned out blur) In a pan add 0.25 cup water, turn heat to medium high, add a package of breakfast sausage, I used Johnsonville Original Breakfast links. Cover and bring water to boil, turn to simmer, cook for 7 minutes. Flip sausages, cook another 5 minutes. Remove sausages from the pan, cut each link into 3 pieces, set aside in bowl. Drain off the water from the pan.

In the same pan, heat 1 tbsp of canola oil at medium high for 2 minutes. Add 2 cloves finely chopped garlic, cook for 30 seconds. Add 2 cups mushrooms, I sliced most of them in half so they cook evenly. Stir and cover, cook at low medium heat for 10 minutes.
Add cooked sausage, cover and cook for 2 more minutes.
For the salad: In a bowl add
0.25 cup finely chopped red onion
1 cup chopped red pepper
1 roma tomato chopped
1 field cucumber skin removed and chopped to 1" pieces

Add 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
0.75 tbsp balsamic vinegar
dash of white pepper
1 tsp parsley flakes

Mix salad thoroughly. Serve on a plate with sausage mushroom and grilled cheese.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sunny Meal

Inspired by Sunny Little Cloud I whipped up this meal for an early Sunday dinner, sunny happy colors included! There's 3 parts to this meal: a yummy scone, a sweet and spicy salsa and eggs sunny side up or any style you like, all quick and easy to make.For the scones: I modified the recipe found here. The first time around I made the scones with the same amount of butter, though it was delicious and driving us mad as they baked in the oven I found the result a tad bit heavy so I reduced the butter to 1/3 cup. I also did not use any lemon zest and substituted the buttermilk with milk and 0.75 tbsp vinegar. There is no brushing of tops of scones with egg mixture and no glaze. I used dried cranberries instead of cherries.

I found the dough sticky after adding the buttermilk but did not knead them on the counter. I just mixed the mixture lightly with my hands and both times I made it I got 7 scones out of the recipe. I simply scooped the portions up with my hand and place them on a baking sheet, ungreased and unlined. The bits left in the bowl I scrape them up with a rubber spatula and distrbuted them on top of the scones, pressing lightly.

The scones are baked in preheated 400 F oven and done in 20 minutes. I'm pretty happy with this reduced fat version, although it might be good sliced sideways with a light spread of margarine.
For the salsa: Mix the following ingredients in a bowl.
0.25 cup finely chopped red onion
2 roma tomatoes chopped
1 persimmon chopped (I used the Korean variety, it's sweet and crunchy)
1 can peaches and cream corn 341 mL, drained
0.5 cup cilantro chopped
1.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (highly recommended for a tangy sweet and fruity flavor)
salt and pepper to taste (I don't normally add salt to salads but I found using a bit helps to incorporate flavors in this dish, I used a pinch)
0.5 tsp chilli flakes (optional but I think a bit of spiciness is nice)