Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sweet Potato Curry Puffs


This little side dish was inspired by one of my favorite restaurants, Suwanna in Saint John.  They are kind of a Thai/Samosa type side.  I served it alongside a Red Thai Curry Beef.  So yummy!  I know these aren't exact measurements, but I was making it up and winging it.  You get the idea.

Here's what I did.  I boiled a few sweet potatoes and then drained and mashed them with a little bit of butter.  In a frying pan, I sauteed some diced shallots, grated ginger, and pressed garlic with a teaspoon or so of curry powder.  I added the sweet potato and mixed up together, allowing the flavors to work together.

I then took some filo dough, brushed a little melted butter over top.  I cut the dough into strips and put a spoonful of potato mix on each at the end.  I then folded up the puffs into triangles (like samosas or spanikopitas).  I brushed a little more melted butter on top of them and baked them at 425* for about 10 minutes.  

They worked out better even better than I hoped and can't wait to make them again.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Feast of Indian Food

I don't think there's a week that goes by in our house without me making one kind of curry or another. All of these recipes came from 2 of my favorite cookbooks. I became so addicted the the Bhajis, I made them again the following week. So tasty (and probably terrible for you, but great with a glass of beer)

Jamie Oliver's Vegetable Bhajis
One of my favorite discoveries this year.

2 large carrots (I used sweet potato instead the second time I made these and they were just as good)
a 4 inch piece of ginger root
2 medium red onions (I substituted the equivalent in shallots)
2-3 red chilies (I didn't have these so I used jalapenos instead)
a large bunch of fresh cilantro
2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tsp tumeric
1 heaped tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp sea salt
1 heaped cup self rising flour (I don't carry this on hand, I used one cup all purpose flour plus 1 1/2 tsp baking powder)
1 quart vegetable oil
a piece of potato (to test oil heat)
juice of 1 lemon
2 limes (optional)

Prep
Peel and grate or shred the carrots, ginger and red onions and put them into a large bowl. Finely chop the chiles and add to the bowl. Roughly chop the cilantro. Add the mustard seeds, tumeric, cumin seeds, salt and chopped cilantro to the bowl, Add the flour, plus 1/2 cup of cold water and scrunch together using your hands. The mixture will be messy and thick.

Cooking
Use a deep fat fryer if you have one, which I don't. I used a large cooking pot. Add the oil. Drop in a piece of potato - when it floats to the surface and begins to sizzle, the oil is ready. Remove the potato using a slotted spoon. Pick up a tbsp of the bhaji mixture, press it together and carefully lower it into the hot oil. Repeat so you are cooking several at once. Cook for 5 minutes until they are crispy and golden. Remove using the slotted spoon and put them on some paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with a little salt and squeeze of lemon juice (I skipped that part). Repeat with other bhajis.
Serve with lime wedges.

*Bhajis can be made with all sorts of vegetables, just keep the onions the same.

Jamie Oliver's Vindaloo


2 medium onions
4 cloves of garlic
1-2 red chiles (I left this out, I knew the vindaloo paste would make it hot enough for me without)
a thumb sized piece of ginger
a small bunch of fresh cilantro
4 ripe tomatoes (I didn't have on hand so I used 4 canned tomatoes instead)
peanut or vegetable oil
a pat of butter
1 3/4 pounds meat (he suggests pork shoulder, I used chicken)
1/2 cup vindaloo or hot curry paste (Patak's is the best)
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1 cup plain yogurt
1 lemon

Prep
Peel, halve and finely slice the onions. Peel and finely slice the garlic. Finely slice the chile. Pee and finely slice the ginger. Pick the cilantro leaves and finely chop the stalks. Cut the tomatoes into quarters.

Cooking
Use a large casserole type pan. Put it on medium to high heat with a little oil and the butter. Add the onions, garlic, chile, ginger, and cilantro stalks and cook for 10 minutes, until softened and golden. Add the meat and the curry paste. Stir well to coat everything with the paste and season with a little salt and pepper. Add the tomoatoe, balsamic vinegar, honey and 1 2/3 cup water and stir again. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and let simmer for 45 minutes. Check and stir regularly to keep the meal from catching on the pan. Add extra water if you need it. Serve over rice (basamati is best for Indian curries)

Dal with Coconut Milk
(from Mangoes and Curry Leaves)

This is a dish from Sri Lanka, and so tasty. Don't get over excited about the coconut milk like I did and add too much, stick with the measurements listed to make a nice, thick dal.

1 cup masur dal, washed (orange-red lentil)
5 cups water

1 tbsp veg oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp minced shallots or red onion
6-8 fresh or frozen curry leaves
2-3 dried red chiles
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp salt
1 cup coconut milk

Put dal in a medium pot with the water. Bring to a boil, reduce the head to a low simmer and cook fo 20 minutes. Keep warm over low heat.
Heat a wok or heavy skillet over medium high heat and add the oil.. Toss in the garlic and shallots and stir fry for 2 minutes. Add the curry leaves, chiles and ground coriander. Mix well and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir in the salt and coconut milk. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the tempering mixture to the dal and simmer for a for minutes to blend the flavors. The thicker you simmer it the thicker it will get.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Candy Cane Cookies


This little twist on the traditional sugar cookie is just what we needed to jump start our Christmas baking.  It was so easy to do.  Make your regular sugar cookie recipe.  Add 1/4 cup* of crushed candy cane to the dough, mix it in well.  Bake as usual

Once the cookies are done baking let them cool for just a couple of minutes, then press them one by one into a mix of equal parts icing sugar powder and crushed candy cane (3 tbsp of each).  So tasty!

To crush your candy canes, put about 8 regular sized ones into a ziplock bag.  Cover with a tea towel.  Pound with a rolling pin or a meat hammer until the candy is in little bits.

Here's my favorite sugar cookie recipe.  It is from Mrs. Field's Best Cookie Book Ever
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup salted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 325*.  In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt with a whisk, set aside.  In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed.  Add the egg and vanilla, beat until well mixed.  Add the flour mixture, Blend on a low speed just until combined, don't overmix.  Gather the dough into a ball, flatten the ball into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate one hour until firm.
On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick.  Use cookie cutters to cut the dough into fun shapes.  Bake for 13-15 minutes.

*1/4 cup candy cane was added to half of the dough, the other half I baked as directed.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pita Pizzas with a Kick - a guest post

My husband has been creating in the kitchen again. Here's his great twist on our pita pizzas!



Cooking never has to be boring. If you cooking is boring and you are tired of the same old flavors then you need to mix it up a bit. One of my favorite ways to mix it up lately is to add a twist of Indian. I used this recipe from AllRecipies.com and added a half a teaspoon of Patak’s Vindaloo Curry Paste. Yum! I kept the quantity small enough so as not to override the flavor of the pizza sauce, but to add a twinge of Indian kick. The result: wow!

Ingredients:
2 Greek Pitas
Pizza Sauce w/ Indian Kick
½ Onion (thinly sliced)
½ Red Pepper (thinly sliced)
Pepperoni
Cheddar (grated)
Feta Cheese (grated)
15 Kalamata Olives

What gives these pita pizzas such a gourmet flavor is the flavor of the ingredients themselves. Lately, Kristen and I have switched from using Red Bell Peppers to Long Sweet Red Peppers. They have a robust flavor. You don’t need a lot of feta cheese to add great flavor.  The onions and peppers are sweet, the feta and the Kalamata olives are bitter and salty. This pizza sauce has a wonderful taste even without the “Indian Kick”, due to the garlic, herbs, and honey. Slice up the vegetables, grate the cheese, remove the pits from the olives and slice them up. (I prefer Kalamata olives in brine to canned sliced olives as they have much more flavor.)

Cover the pitas with as much sauce as you like. Add the pepperoni, onion, pepper, olives, cheese, and then bake at 350 for 20 min. Enjoy your gourmet pita pizzas!

Another variation on these pizzas:

2 Greek Pitas
Pizza Sauce w/ Indian Kick
½ Red Pepper (thinly sliced)
1 shallot (thinly sliced)
¼ Onion (thinly sliced)
½ Jalapeno Pepper (thinly sliced)
1 clove of Garlic (crushed)
6 oz Rotisserie Chicken (cut in chunks)
1 tsp Olive oil
Cheddar Cheese
Feta Cheese
Kalamata olives

In a small fry pan lightly sauté the thinly sliced shallots, onion, garlic, and Jalapeno pepper in Olive oil, and then cool. Cover the pitas with pizza sauce, add onion, garlic, shallot mix, and spread evenly. Add chunks of chicken, red pepper, and Kalamata olives. Finish with cheese and bake at 350 for 20 min on a baking sheet. Enjoy!

Pizza Sauce:

Pizza Sauce Recipe from AllRecipies.com
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
6 fluid ounces warm water (110 degrees
F/45 degrees C)
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
salt to taste

In a small bowl, combine tomato paste, water, Parmesan cheese, garlic, honey, anchovy paste, onion powder, oregano, marjoram, basil, ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes and salt; mix together, breaking up any clumps of cheese.
Sauce should sit for 30 minutes to blend flavors; spread over pizza dough and prepare pizza as desired.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Making Pasta

Last week, a friend of mine asked me if I'd like to come by and make pasta with her.  I've never used a pasta maker before so I was pretty excited to see how it worked.  It was surprisingly easy, just time consuming.  But time flies by when you are creating in the kitchen with a friend.  Here's the recipe and how it all went.

2 cups flour (we did one batch with 1 1/2 cups white and 1/2 cup whole wheat and then a second batch that was 1 cup white and 1 cup whole wheat, both worked)
3 eggs
1 tsp water
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp salt

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until the mixture begins to form a ball.  Kneed the dough for a few minutes, sprinkling extra flour as necessary so the dough is not sticky.  Cut dough into 4 pieces.  Cover 3 with plastic wrap while working with the first one.  Flatten out a little by hand or rolling pin and follow your pasta roller's instructions to create the kind of pasta you desire.  I made fetuccini noodles with mine, and my friend made lasagna.  I'll be posting the alfredo sauce my husband made to go with it soon. 

 getting set to mix
 the dough
 me using the pasta roller to flatten the dough down
 cutting the noodles
The noodles drying

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Babyfood Recipes

A few months back I posted how I was going to attempt to make all of my daughter's food. She is 10 months old now and I have been successful at it.  Yay!  It's been a lot easier than I thought it would be.  I thought I would share a few of my recipes and tips with you all.

Chicken and Veggies

I usually buy a rotisserie chicken when I go shopping to use in meals.  To use it with baby food, I take about a cup of meat and chop it up.  I add it to a baked squash or a few baked sweet potatoes in a mixing bowl. Add a little bit of chicken broth and puree with a hand blender.  She loves it.

Beef Stew

1 pound stewing beef - cut into 1 inch slices
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 potatoes, peeled and sliced into chunks
1 cup frozen peas
enough water to cover the food
1 tbsp beef boullion

Boil everything together until the meat and veggies are soft.  Add water as necessary.  Puree with a hand blender.

Apricots and ?

To make a good apricot puree, re-hydrate dried apricots with a enough water to cover them up.  Boil for about 10 minutes.  Puree right in the pot.  I like to make apricot plus another fruit mix.  To make apricots and bananas, I take 2 bananas, slice them and lay them out on a piece of aluminum foil.  Scoop a good portion of the apricot puree on top.  Add a little bit of vanilla (1 tsp).  Wrap the fruit up into a package and bake it at 325 for 20 minutes.  Once the fruit is all soft, empty the packet out into a mixing bowl and puree everything together with a hand blender.  I do the same with apricot and apple, just substitute a couple of peeled, cored and sliced apples for the banana.  And yes, I've done this with just the apple and banana and it works great too.  Very tasty!

How to store your baby food:

Spoon into ice cube trays.  I label the trays with a dry-erase marker so I remember what's in there.  The next day pop the cubes into freezer bags, make sure to label them and date the food, so you know what you have and when you made it.  Baby food in the freezer can be kept and used for 3-6 months.  Thawed food can be kept refrigerated for a couple of days.  The great thing with the cubes is that there is very little waste.  You get a good sense of how much your little one will eat and you just need to defrost/heat that much.  I usually microwave 2-3 cubes for about 40 seconds.  But be sure to stir and check the temperature before you serve it.  You don't want your baby to get a burnt tongue from a hot spot.  Have fun and be creative!


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Authentic Tacos with Pico de Gallo


A classmate of my husband is from Texas.  He came home rather excited last week because he got it.  What did he get?  Her taco recipe.  We are not talking tacos with the package mix here.  We are talking real, good tacos.  The best tacos I've ever had, ever!  He was kind enough to write out the recipe for me to share with y'all too.  Here it is:


1 lb of Ground Beef
2 Jalapeno Peppers (For a medium heat. You can add more if you want more heat.)
2 Onions
4 Roma Tomatoes
½ Bunch of Cilantro
1 Lime
½ Red or Yellow Pepper
Iceberg Lettuce
¾ can of Whole or Diced Tomatoes w/ juice.
1 Tablespoon of Ground Cumin
1 Teaspoon of Oregano
a pinch of sugar
Beef Stock



Make Pico De Gallo:
Dice one onion, four Roma tomatoes, ½ a Jalapeno Pepper. Finely chop ½ bunch of Cilantro, and squeeze all the juice from the lime. (A trick for juicing a lime is to roll it along a surface, such as a cutting board, using the palm of your hand. Apply enough pressure onto the lime to break it up inside without breaking the skin. Then cut it open and squeeze the juice out into the bowl). Mix ingredients well and refrigerate. It is best to make the Pico de Gallo a few hours before you plan to serve the Tacos.

Taco Beef:
Dice the other onion, ½ red or yellow pepper, and finely dice 1 ½ Jalapeno Peppers. (Be careful when cutting or grating Jalapeno peppers by hand as the oils on your hands can will cause a burning sensation when anything your hands come into contact with (eyes, nose, face, etc.) Saute the ground beef with the onions and peppers, until the beef is almost browned. Add the canned tomatoes, Cumin, Oregano, sugar and beef stock. (I mix the beef stock with water and just add 1 tablespoon of liquid.) Bring mixture to a boil, and then turn down and allow it to simmer for 20 min.

Fixins:
Serve the taco meat with shredded iceberg lettuce, grated cheese (we like sharp cheddar), Pico de Gallo, sour cream, warmed taco shells. Enjoy!





Thursday, November 18, 2010

Inside Out Caramel Apples

Like a lot of good recipes, this one was passed on from a friend who saw it somewhere else.  My friend found it on Random Thoughts of a Supermom (original post here).  They looked easy and yummy and seeing as I haven't had much success making real caramel apples, I thought I'd try it out.  Okay the picture does not do the yumminess of this justice at all.  But trust me, it's tasty.  My 6 year old thought so to.

Basically you take an apple (or several apples).  Slice the top off, scoop out the inside core.  Put a few sliced mini carmels inside with some chopped peanuts, a little dab of butter and bake at 350* for 30-40 minutes (until the apple is soft).  Very tasty on a fall night.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Apple Banana Bread


Wow, I am really behind on my posting.  It's a funny cycle food blogging isn't it?  I get inspired by all the wonderful recipes you all post and start experimenting in the kitchen.  And then I get busy with the kids and everything else going on in my life and suddenly I realize I have a stack of photos waiting to be posted on.  Oh well, after a couple of years of food blogging I have come to the conclusion that I don't enjoy it if I pressure myself to be posting all the time.  The recipes will still be there for when I get a good chunk of time on the computer.

Here's a lovely recipe I found last month on Lauren's Kitchen (original post here).  My son loved it so much that I made it twice within a week.  He wanted it for breakfast and in his lunchbox for school.  It's really easy and a great way to use up those bananas you've got frozen in your freezer.

  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 stick butter - I had to look this up, 1 stick = 1/2 cup butter, the 2nd time I made it I substituted applesauce for the butter and it worked great.
  • 3 ripe bananas (mashed)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 or 3 peeled, chopped apples
Beat sugar, eggs and butter. Add bananas and mix together.   Add baking soda, vanilla, cinnamon, and flour. Mix.  Fold in chopped apples. Fill greased and floured bread pans 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour - I have a slow oven so I baked this for a little bit longer, just keep checking for when the top is nice and golden and a toothpick comes out clean when you insert it in the middle of the bread.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Peanut Butter Bars

I am a Reese's Pieces addict.  I absolutely love munching on them - too much!  These squares were my attempt to make something similar in my own kitchen and they were a pretty good match.  Very yummy.  As you can see my 3 year old loved them too.

Crust
24 Graham Crackers, crushed finely
1/4 cup melted margarine
1/4 cup melted chocolate chips

Mix everything together and spread out over an 8 inch square baking dish.  Bake at 350* for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool.

Middle
1 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Mix everything together. *Add the sugar to the peanut butter one cup at a time to get a good consistency.  Spread over the crust once the crust is cool.

Topping
1/4 cup melted chocolate chips

Spread over the middle while the chocolate is still hot.

Allow the squares to set for an hour in the fridge.  I've been keeping these in the freezer which works great too.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds


Just because Oct. 31st has passed does not mean that the time for eating pumpkin is through (esp. you American friends of mine with your Thanksgiving coming up!). Roasted pumpkin seeds are an easy, healthy snack that are so tasty.

Here's what you do:

As you scoop out the 'pumpkin guts', comb through with your fingers to lift the seeds out (they come out pretty easy).  Set them in a bowl of water and allow them to soak to help clean them off.
Rinse the seeds, take off any remaining bits of orange.
Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray (I know we are going to use a little oil later, but this part helps too).
Spread the seeds over the baking sheet.
Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil (don't drench them)
Sprinkle with a little bit of salt.
Bake at 300* for half an hour-45 minutes - check every so often to flip them so they don't catch and burn.
Set the seeds in a bowl lined with paper towel (this will blot off any excess oil)

*I like the basic olive oil and salt, but you can have fun with other seasonings too, like garlic powder, cayenne, season salt, onion powder, or mixed seasonings (Cajun, Tex-Mex etc).

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Making Pancakes Better

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while know that our family loves pancakes.  I decided to spruce up the regular Saturday morning pancakes a couple of times this past month.  The first surprise my kids were delighted with.  I remember having Mickey Mouse pancakes as a kid and loving them.  They are really east to do.  Pour the larger centre first and the two smaller ears.  My youngest called them "Toodles!"  (which you'll know if your own is a fan of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse).  The letters I've been wanting to try my hand at for a while.  I filled an icing dispenser with pancake mix and did the writing.  Everyone got their own letter (1st initial).  They were cute (and yummy) and the kids loved them!

The next big of sprucing up I did was for a box mix.  I'm not big on box mixed pancakes (I prefer mine from scratch).  But we had some in the house that needed eating up.  I made them better by:
-grating a peeled apple into the mix
-adding a little vanilla
-adding a little cinnamon
They were so good!  It reminded me of eating churros in Disneyland.

They were also my daughter's first pancakes - I think she liked them!


For more pancake fun check out this guy: Jim's Pancakes

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sizzling Calamari Al Diavolo


This kitchen experiment of mine (like any good recipe) has a back story. My husband I both enjoy eating out, a lot more than we should. In fact at one point we were going broke because we were eating out way too much. The funny thing is that we both like to cook and we are both good cooks. I think we were just tired. We also were finding it increasingly difficult to order when we were out because we didn't want to order anything that we could make at home (and better). We both have a kind of agreed upon policy to order things we can't make at home just as good.
One of our favorite chains to eat at is East Side Mario's. And I pretty much order the same thing every time. Sizzling Calamari Al Diavolo to start and then their Seafood Linguini. The Calamari dish was a fluke when we once ordered regular calamari and they brought us this by mistake. We were instantly hooked. I love this dish.
We are now pretty much reformed from eating out. Eating out has become a treat for once in a while once again. So it really was a treat to stop at East Side Mario's on our way home from a camping trip this August. And of course I had the Calamari. Since then I'd been thinking that there must be some way to make this. We have a cast iron skillet after all. Then last week at my grocery shop a bag of calamari just jumped out at me from the freezer section. I bought it. Last night I did my best to imitate East Side Mario's recipe. Their menu gives a few clues on what's in it. The rest is just my guess work. I was really happy with the results. So was my husband. He said I got the flavor bang on. Yay me!

East Side Mario's Menu reads:
Sizzling Calamari Al Diavoli
Lightly seasoned calamari with garlic, onions, read, green and hot cherry peppers served in a tomato broth. Spicy!

I couldn't find any cherry peppers, so used a jalapeno instead. I also realized I was out of green peppers, so I substituted a yellow in it's place. Here's my recipe:

1 tsp olive oil
1 onion, cut into chunks
1 red pepper, cut into chunks
1 yellow pepper, cut into chunks (can use green)
4 cloves garlic, chopped into small pieces
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped into small pieces
1/4 cup fajita cooking sauce (I used PC Brand Memories of Mexico, but I think any tomato based fajita sauce would work)
2 tsp chicken bouillon powder
up to 1 cup water
2 tsp Tex-Mex seasoning
a few shakes Franks Red Hot Sauce
1 pound pre-breaded frozen calamari (this would be even better if you made your own breaded calamari I think)

Drizzle a cast-iron skillet with olive oil over medium heat. Add the veggies. As the veggies begin to soften add the fajita sauce, chicken bouillon, Tex-Mex seasoning, and Frank's Red Hot Sauce. Mix together. Let the veggies cook slowly to soften well. Don't be tempted to cook it fast or it will burn. Drizzle a little water as needed to keep the food from catching, but don't drown it. Once everything is cooked to done, add the calamari and mix in. Cook for just a couple of minutes to heat the calamari up (cooking too long will leave calamari rubbery). Serve immediately.

*The next time I make this, I'm going to try to deep fry the calamari and then mix it in, just to try to improve the texture a bit. Otherwise, really yummy.

**Edit Update - I made this again, but baked the calamari according to package directions first, then added it to the veggie mix. It was delicious! Much better than adding the calamari in without cooking it first.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

DIY Beefaroni

This is an extremely kid-friendly, fall yummy sort of meal.  It is also super-easy.

1lb beef
1/2 onion chopped finely
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 large can tomato sauce (we used our homemade stuff.)
1 can (small) tomato paste
1-2 tbsp Italian seasoning
2 cups uncooked macaroni
Mozzerella cheese (grated)

Cook macaroni according to package directions.  While macaroni is cooking, saute the beef in a large frying pan with the garlic, onions and Italian seasoning.  Once the beef is browned add the tomato sauce and paste.  Mix everything together well.  Drain the macaroni and add to the mixture.  Add as much grated cheese as you desire (about 1/2 cup - 1 cup works well).  Mix everything together to melt the cheese in.  Serve and enjoy!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Best Chili!


For the first few years of our marriage, I'd make chili and my husband would eat it, but not enjoy it. The problem is that he really, really loves chili, but I couldn't seem to find a recipe that he liked. So I stopped making chili altogether. That was it. If I wanted chili, I'd get a bowl from Tim Horton's or Wendy's. Now that the fall weather is here, I was craving chili again. I thought I would scour my favorite blogs and recipe sites until I found the perfect recipe and make it. My friends, I have found that recipe. This was the perfect chili. And yes, my husband enjoyed it too. This is my keeper. I found it on food.com (formerly Recipezaar.com) and it is delicious. The only differences that I did with this recipe was use our homemade tomato sauce instead of canned, increased the onion to half an onion, and added a finely chopped green pepper to the mix. Other than that I made it according to her directions. So enjoy, the perfect chili.

Seasoning Mix

* 4 tablespoons chili powder
* 2 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
* 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
* 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
* 1 teaspoon oregano
* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix together seasoning mix.
Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

* 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
* 1 tablespoon minced onion (I used half and onion instead, I also added a chopped green pepper)
* 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
* 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
* 2 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans


-In a skillet, cook ground beef until no longer pink.
-Drain.
-Add onion and 3 tsp of seasoning mix.
-In Crock-Pot, add tomatoes, tomato sauce, one can of beans (drain and rinse the beans) and two more teaspoons of seasoning mix.
-Place the other can of beans (drain and rinse the beans first) in a blender and process until smooth.
-Add beans and meat to the crock pot.
-Stir together.
-Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Canning Applesauce

We had a fantastic time apple picking this year.  But you know how it is, apple picking goes so fast that the kids fill your bags with more apples than you can possibly use.  But this is the year I started canning, so I thought I'd make a little (read a LOT) more applesauce than usual.  My kids love it.  I looked up a bunch of recipes on sites I like and then thought I would just do the math to make a large batch of the applesauce recipe that I used last year.  That recipe was posted by Heidi of Tried and True Cooking with Heidi.  It is the best applesauce I've had.  You can find the original recipe here.  I used 38 apples in my canning version (although it would have been easier to use 40, now that I'm thinking about it, so I'll post as if I used 40 apples)

Yield: 5 litres of applesauce

40 apples
7.5 cups of water
2.5 cups of sugar or Splenda
5 tsp cinnamon

Peel and slice all your apples.  Place all of the ingredients into a large stock pot and mix.  Cook until the apples are soft, stirring occasionally.  Use a hand blender to puree. 
Prepare your canning jars and lids.  I think you can use a water bath for canning applesauce, but I have been schooled in the safety of pressure canning.  I pressure canned this for about 20 minutes at 11 psi which worked beautifully. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Beef Stroganoff


This is super tasty fall comfort food. I adapted a recipe I found for a venison stroganoff, using stewing beef instead of venison, mini-portabellos and a crock pot. The result was absolute yum.

1 pound stewing beef - chopped into 1 inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup flour
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 pound fresh mushroom, chopped or sliced
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup water
1 tbsp instant beef bouillon
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup sour cream

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Mix the flour and paprika together in a medium mixing bowl. Add beef and coat. Once the beef is coated, sear it in the heated olive oil. Remove from heat once all sides of the cubes are done. (throw away the excess flour)
Spray a crockpot with non-stick spray. Throw in the beef and the remaining ingredients except the sour cream and mix well. Cook at low heat for 6-8 hours. Add the sour cream at the end, mixing it in. Serve over egg noodles or rice.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Oh the Habanero


Friends of ours grow their own peppers each year. They know that we are foodies like them (as we often trade recipe ideas and treats that we have made). This year they grew some habaneros and asked if we would like some. Sure, I've never cooked with them before, being a little fearful of the intense heat, but what the heck. 
My first venture out, I decided to add them to a batch of salsa.  The original recipe called for 10 jalapeno peppers, so I wasn't sure exactly how many habanero peppers to put in their place.  I looked up the heat charts and thought that 2 would bring the heat up.  The salsa turned out well, but not nearly as spicy as I wanted to make it.  I think I'd use 4 next time with that volume.
The unfortunate part of that cooking experience was that I just wasn't thinking about handling the peppers.  I didn't wear gloves.  Oh my word!  The undersides of my fingernails were burning.  Really really burning.  And not thinking again, I tried to wash the oil off my fingers - note to self - water makes the heat re-intensify. Ouch!  Thank goodness I remembered not to let the baby suck on my fingers for teething relief until the oils were truly gone.
Today I tried out a recipe for a roasted spicy squash soup.  Doesn't that just sound lovely?  I mean, I dream of recipes like this for fall.  It called for 3 habanero peppers (I used only 2).  Okay, I really, really have to learn my ratios for this little pepper.  The house smelled so fragrantly wonderful.  I roasted the squash and peppers and garlic.   I used fresh turkey stock that I made from my Thanksgiving turkey this past weekend.  It should have been beautiful.   Until I tasted it.  Oh mouth on fire!  Mouth on fire!  My husband laughed at me.  But I thought at least he could enjoy it, loving spicy food that is really fiery more than I.  Nope, he can't eat it either.  At least not a full bowl full.  Too bad.  Here's the link to the recipe for those who really like heat in their soup.
So now I am not sure what to do with the rest of the peppers.  They still sit there inviting me, making me believe that I can use them in something and it will turn out alright.  I like spicy, but not so spicy that I can't eat it.  I know some of you are better at this than me!
Incidentally, here are a couple of ways I learned you can reduce the heat from a habanero pepper oil on your skin:
-white toothpaste
-soak your hands in a bowl of cold milk

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Red Thai Chicken Curry


I read in a book recently how cliche the love of Thai food in the west is becoming.  That people are discovering fish sauce like some great new secret ingredient.  It's true, we've got a love affair with Thai food and I'm no exception.  I love it.  My husband and I have been trying to re-create a red curry that would be as good as the one at our favorite restaurant back home in the Maritimes.  This is the closest we have come.  It is really, really good!

Two chicken breasts - chopped into large chunks
Half onion - chopped finely
1 shallot - chopped finely
4 cloves garlic - crushed
Small lump of ginger - chopped finely or grated
2 heaping tsp red curry paste - the curry paste you get makes all the difference in the world, our current one of choice is made by Thai kitchen
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
2 tablespoons of table syrup or brown sugar
Cilantro - a good amount chopped finely
Lime juice 1 small lime
1 tsp butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Half can of coconut milk (I like to use the full can a little at a time, my husband uses just 1/2 a can)





I find it helps to get everything prepped first because this meal comes together so quickly.  My ingredients are listed a little backwards, so you'll have to work with me on this one. 

Fist, heat the oil and melt the butter in a saucepan, or large (deep) frying pan (medium heat so you don't burn the next ingredients).  Add the onions, shallots, garlic and ginger.  Cook to let them become soft, but don't overcook to let them burn.  Add the curry paste, mixing it in to coat the veggies.  Add the chicken and let it cook through.  Pour the coconut milk over everything as the chicken is cooking.  Add the rest of the ingredients and let simmer for a few minutes.  Serve over rice.
 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Salsa - my first canning experience

We bought a pressure canner!  Canning is a venture that my husband and I had long talked about but never did anything about.  I have fantastic memories of helping my mom can peaches and cherries and antipasto when I was a kid.  (mmm, home canned peaches!). 
Getting the canner was more my husband's doing than mine.  He really is searching for a great tomato sauce.  And he wants to can it.   Last week we went to a local farm and got a bushel of roma tomatoes.  He used half of them to make a large amount of tomato sauce with the intent to can.  He was disappointed with the recipe and decided to freeze his sauce, rather than canning.  I happened upon a salsa recipe at one of my favorite blogs,  Mennonite Girls Can Cook.  I figured that the recipe would be a keeper because I grew up in a town full of Mennonites.  I know they really can cook.  I've bought their baking and canning at local events.    Delicious.  This salsa was too.  It is a mild salsa and now that I know I can make it, I know I can play with it a bit for next time to turn up the heat.  The recipe originally called for water bath canning, but I pressure canned it as pressure canning is a much safer form of canning (no need to make anyone sick on my first canning venture!).  I'm really excited about this and look forward to other kinds of canning in the future.

15 lbs Roma tomatoes
3 lg onions
6 - 8 sweet peppers in a variety of colors
6 - 10 jalapeno peppers, seeded, chopped fine
12 garlic cloves, crushed - (I upped this to 20)
2 - 10 oz cans tomato paste
2 cups vinegar
1 cup lime juice (bottled)
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp oregano
3 tsp cumin
1 can black beans
1-2 bunches cilantro, chopped - (I used 3 bunches)

  1. Wash and chop tomatoes, adding to pot as you go.
  2. Finely chop onions and peppers, adding to pot.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to boil on medium heat.
  4. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Ladle into (sterilized) jars, using canning funnel, cover with lids and screw rings.
  6. Place into hot water bath in large canner, bring to boil and process for 20 minutes. (I pressure canned instead, following the instructions with my canner
  7. Remove and allow to cool at room temp. Keep in cool storage.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pizza Pinwheels - School Lunch Idea!

The search for a great lunch for my first grader is officially on.  I answered the challenge with help from Jean Pare.  Jean Pare is the founder of the Canadian company Company's Coming.  I happened upon one of their book collections called Kids Cook.  It is a 3 in 1 collection (Bag Lunches, After School Snacks and Weekend Treats).  These cookbooks were designed with kids in mind.  It is geared to teach kids to cook (ages 8 - 15), but my 6 year old can do a lot of it with a little help from me.  We sat down together and looked through each recipe with him ticking off the ones that appealed most to him.  We decided that the pizza pinwheels would be the first recipe that we would try.  They were quick and easy and tasty.  He's had them in his lunch as the main part each day this week with no complaints.  This will be a repeat recipe for us.

2 1/4 cups Biscuit mix
1/2 cup water
7 1/2 oz can pizza sauce
2 sliced green onions
1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped pepperoni
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 tsp dried oregano

Preheat oven to 400*.  Stir the biscuit mix and water in a medium bowl until the dough forms a ball.  Turn dough onto a counter that has been dusted with flour or biscuit mix.  Kneed the dough 20 times.  Roll out to a 12 x 12 inch square.

In a separate bowl, mix the remaining 6 ingredients.  Spread over the dough leaving an inch space all around the edges.  Roll up the dough from one side to the other (like a jelly roll).  Pinch the edges to seal.  Cut into 12 1 inch slices.  Place the slices on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.  Back for 12 minutes.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chocolate Zucchini Loaf - Amazing!

I thought I had an amazing chocolate zucchini loaf recipe posted on here, but I was mistaken (until now!)  So I visited one of my favorite foodies who always posts good baking, Monica at Lick the Bowl Good.  I was right.  She has a fantastic chocolate zucchini recipe.  Hers is for a bundt cake, but she posted that she has made it as a loaf and muffins before, so I took her word for it and used her recipe.  Thank you Monica!  This was so delicious.  My 3 year old just thought he was eating chocolate bread all week.  He had no idea that there was veggies inside.  Monica's original recipe can be found here.  Take a look.


  • 2/3 cup cocoa
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 cup flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cup sugar (plus more for coating pan)
  • 3 cup grated zucchini (4 med. zucchini)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small mixing bowl combine cocoa and melted butter . Add vegetable oil to cocoa and set aside.
In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. 
 In a large mixing bowl beat eggs and slowly add sugar, until thick and light in color. Add cocoa mixture to eggs until well combined, then gradually add flour being careful not to over mix. Once mixture is well incorporated add grated zucchini and vanilla.
Butter or spray pan evenly with non stick spray, then sprinkle with granulated sugar to form a sugar crust. Pour batter into pan about 3/4 full. Place pan in a preheated oven for 65-70 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Angela's Mom's Spaghetti Sauce

We have been on the quest for the perfect spaghetti sauce for a long while now.  When I saw that my old college roommate Angela posted her mom's version during a recent visit home, I knew we had to try it.  I remember Mrs. Collins being a good cook.  I know Angela is a good cook too (we used to drive our landlords nuts wondering what delicious things we had cooking in the basement).  This sauce worked for us.  It's quite a large quantity so we made it, took some enough for that night plus a night of leftovers and then divided out the rest, freezing it in the deep freeze.  The recipe is (as all good recipes are) made mostly by instinct of cooking over the years.  Angela did her best to write it out, but it's not accurate as she will admit.  You can find this fantastic recipe on her cooking blog here.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Johnny's Hamburgers

One thing we have noticed since living in the big, bad city and not our old small town is the amount of real hamburger joints around.  These are the places that have been open for decades, usually run by the original family whose menus haven't changed, ever.  They sell the real deal: burgers, fries, shakes, and onion rings.  Of course who could resist such places, especially when you see that they are hopping at all hours of the day?  We certainly can't.
This is the best we've found yet.  Arguably the best burger place in the GTA, Johnny's Charcoal Hamburgers looks exactly as you would imagine it did when it opened.  It has the original orange and wood paneling decorating.  There isn't a place to sit (unless you count the rickety picnic table out back).  The prices are cheap and the food is delicious.  Rumor has it that Mike Myers used to hang out here back in the day as a Scarborough youth and I believe it.  I would if I was a teenager in the area.
We took our order to go.  We ordered 3 cheeseburgers for our family.  They are large enough for our kids to share one between them.  You can get it made the way you want.  The kids just had ketchup, my husband added bacon and got everything.  I had mine with fried onions, tomatoes, ketchup, mustard and relish.  We ordered sides of fries and onion rings to share and everyone had a shake to finish. 
*side note - if going to a place like this get the shake!  They are so much better than anything Mickey D's has to offer.
Everything was just as you would hope for a place like this.  This won't be the last burger we have at Johnny's.

Monday, September 6, 2010

School Lunch Ideas - Day 1

My oldest child starts back at school tomorrow.  He's beginning grade 1, which means full day school.  This also means the start of 187 (give or take) lunches that I will be packing up and sending off to school.  Lunch at home is no problem.  Lunch for a family picnic is not an issue either.  Lunch for school, that's a little trickier.  I know that the lunch I pack has to meet the following guidelines:
-no peanut butter
-nut free
-able to eat in a short period of time
-stay fresh for a few hours out of the fridge
-be interesting enough for my son to eat
-something that doesn't need heating up
-be healthy
The problem with the school lunches for me is the main course part of the lunch.  I'm not a fan of the everything comes in a package kind of lunch.  I know how much salt and preservatives are in those. The only kind of sandwich my son really loves is peanut butter and banana.  Great for home, banned from school.  He doesn't really like lunch meats (though he will eat one of those sandwiches once in a while) so the traditional sandwich takes a backseat.  At home we eat a lot of hot lunches, grilled cheese, tomato soup, chicken noodle soup, macaroni, mini pizzas, etc.  Some of those I know I can make and heat and send in a thermos (provided the thermos doesn't leak everywhere).
I know I'm not the only mom struggling for good solutions here.  I'd love to hear what other moms have come up with.  As we find winning lunches, I'll post them on this blog, hoping to help inspire some of the rest of you.  I'd love to hear what winning lunches you have in the comments section too!

Day 1 Lunch
-hummus and pita bread
-sliced strawberries
-vanilla yogurt
-dried fruit snacks
-orange juice

Saturday, September 4, 2010

BBQ Chicken Pizza

This was one of those 'why didn't I think of this before?' recipes.  I love BBQ chicken pizza, but I've never made it.  It's so easy, I think it may become a regular part of my rotation.

I made 4 of these to enjoy, so you could make 4 different pizzas at once.  I think we'll do that next time and let the boys each do their own.

4 Greek Pitas (the thick ones)
Your favorite BBQ sauce
1 cooked chicken breast - chopped (this was from a rotisserie chicken)
1/4 cup chopped red pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion (red onion would have been even better)
grated cheese (I used cheddar, but mozzarella's traditional)

Place the pitas onto 2 baking sheets.  Spread the ingredients over all of your pitas.  Bake at 350* for 15 minutes, or until cheese is starting to become golden.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Rotisserie Chicken

I really think that the rotisserie chicken is one of the greatest gifts that grocery stores have given us shoppers.  Think about it. You get a perfectly cooked, flavorful chicken, usually for less than the cost if you bought a chicken and cooked it yourself.  I get mine at Costco every 2 weeks, only $6.99 (CDN).  You can't beat that.  These chickens are so versatile.  Here's a small sampling of what you can do with one of these.  Please let me know your own uses for these chickens in the comments section - I'm always looking for ways to be inspired.

-chicken dinner
-chicken salad sandwiches
-chicken wraps
-chicken nachos
-BBQ chicken pizza
-chicken for baby food
-butter chicken
-chicken curry
-chicken in salad
-chicken burritos

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Adventures in Baby food

No picture of the baby food because let's face it, my daughter is much cuter than mush. Making your own baby food is so easy that I'm kicking myself that I didn't do it more with my first two children. In fact you probably have instant babyfood around your house already (and much cheaper than commercially made food).

Applesauce - a staple in two forms at our place. I always have a large jar of the unsweetened organic kind on hand for baking as well as the individual apple sauce mixes around for the boys (and now girl too). By mixes I mean the apple/peach, apple/grape, apple/berry combos.

Canned Pumpkin - I usually have this in my cupboard for making pumpkin pancakes, or pumpkin bread. You don't need to do anything to it to serve it to baby, just heat it a little and it's ready.

Bananas - this is one I shake my head at. Why oh why do people pay 60 cents or more for a tiny container of baby food banana? This is the easiest and handiest baby food to make. You take a piece of banana and mash it with a fork. That's it.

Avocado - as with the banana, mash it with a fork

Brown Beans/Chickpeas/Kidney Beans etc... - we usually have the canned versions of these in our cupboards. I drain and rinse first and then use a hand blender or food processor to puree.

Peas and other frozen veggies - steam cook, drain and then puree with a hand blender. Add water a little bit at a time to get a nice, fine puree.

Carrots, green beans and other fresh veggies - same as with the frozen veggies. Just make sure you fresh water, not the carrot water when you are puree-ing. That water will have some things in it that isn't good for baby.

Squash and sweet potato - I like to bake these as opposed to boiling them. Bake until soft then puree with a hand blender or food processor. Add a little water to it if you think it is too thick.

Adding Meat - Another wonderful use for those rotisserie chickens. I add some chopped cooked chicken to the sweet potatoes, or squash and then blend it all with a little chicken broth. This would be my daughter's current favorite food.

Mesh feeders - I have a couple of these for my little darling to try harder to puree foods like watermelon fresh apples and cantelope. She loves gnawing away at them and it's great for her teething gums.

That's where we are so far in our food adventures. She does eat the baby food cereals but that's about it as far as commercially sold food goes. It's wonderful to use what we already have around. We're saving money and I think she's getting a better tasting food.

Been Blogging

Ladies and Gentlemen, I'd like to introduce my newest blog: Crafty Kris.  Please take a moment or two to check it out.  It's where I'm being creative when I'm not chasing my kids, or in the kitchen, or reading...

Changes

Notice the new design?  I love it!  As much as I loved the Cuppy Cakes design that this blog had been sporting, I was ready for a change.  I checked back in at my favorite blog designer's site and found this.  It is exactly what I was looking for.  The site I get my templates from is Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates.  I love her designs. 
While re-doing the blog I had to remove and then put back all my elements.  I hope that I didn't forget someone along the way on my foodie blog list.  Let me know if I've accidentally left you off.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Egg White Omelet

My husband is very much into his own diet plan these days.  He is determined that his lunches be 300 calories (or thereabouts).  He has a few staples in place and I have to admit that I've picked up this one as one of my new favorite things - the egg white omelet.  We've made it a few different ways, but each way starts pretty much the same.  It is so tasty and so filling that you really don't need anything else until supper.

The Base - heat a little bit of Olive Oil or margarine in a frying pan over medium heat.  Then cook your veggies in it until they are starting to soften.  We like to use onion, bell peppers (usually red or yellow), sliced mushrooms (cooking the mushroom through is key) as our regulars.  We've also used grated zuchini and sliced tomato. Once your veggies are cooked add the egg white.  I add 1/2 cup of egg white (if you don't like just egg whites, mix 1/2 cup egg whites with 1 egg instead) .  Let it cook through on one side.  Add a little bit of cheese in and flip.  The omelet in the picture has cheddar, but the best we've made has feta instead.  Let it cook before flipping onto your plate.  I have to say I'm no expert at this and it can look pretty messy, but the taste is amazing.  Grate a little more cheese on.  Add a little salt and pepper or parsley and you're set. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My husband is taking over!

I was perusing through the past few months worth of pictures looking for recipes I haven't logged in here yet. This is what I found:

BBQ Steak in Jerk Seasoning with roasted veggies and a baked potato.


BBQ chicken with ceasar salad and baked potato
.


Pizza


Deep Fried Shrimp with Red Thai Curry and Rice


Bacon Wrapped Scallops


BBQ Shrimp and Salmon with new potatoes and veg

A Big Salad

Shrimp

These are all fantastic recipes.  The only thing is, I didn't cook a single one of them.  They are my husband's creations.  I'm not complaining.  I just find it somewhat humorous.  You see, when I first started this cooking blog, my husband saw me taking pictures of the food and said, "What are you doing?".  Then he joked about it when company was over, "Oh, we can't eat yet, she has to take a picture".  Now, he's taking pictures.  I don't know when he was planning on posting these recipes.  He's working on his Master's and working part-time.  So in the meantime, here are the pictures.  One day the recipes may follow.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Spider-Man Cake



Those of you who have followed my blog for a while know that I usually make a wacky cake for my kids birthdays. My oldest son turned 6 last week. He's very into super heroes right now. This is the cake I made for him. To get the shape of Spider-Man's face, I first made a double batch of the wacky cake batter (recipe found here) in a large rectangular pan. I then traced a Spider-Man shaped head on the cake before cutting it out. I scooped out the sides of the cake (and froze them, I mean to make something out of the cake bits later) and then turned the cake over to the foil lined cutting board. I then froze the cake over night. Freezing the cake makes it much easier to decorate. The rest I did by looking at a picture of Spider-Man. The eyes I made by shaping a couple of white chocolate pieces, laying them down on top of the red icing. I did all the black icing last. I am really happy with the result and it turned out to be one of the easier cakes I've done.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Jamie Oliver's Lasagna


I am very much in love with this cookbook. I have yet to find a bad recipe in the lot. I find with cookbooks you have to like the author's style of cooking or it's of no use to you. I own probably 20-25 cookbooks but use 5 on a regular basis. This is now part of my regular rotation. What I like about it is that it is simple enough for beginning cooks to use, but interesting enough for those of us who are comfortable in a kitchen to enjoy.

Sauce
*the original recipe uses smoked bacon in it (2 slices), I have a pork intolerance so I left it out
2 medium onions
2 cloves of garlic
2 carrots
2 celery stalks
olive oil
2 heaped tsp dried oregano
1 pound ground beef
2 x 14 oz cans of tomatoes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
small bunch of fresh basil
2 oz parmesan cheese


For the Lasagna

8 oz dried egg lasagna sheets
2 cups creme fraiche or 2 cups thick sour cream (I used the sour cream)
4 oz parmesan cheese
1 large ripe tomato, sliced

Making the sauce

Peel and chop the veggies.  Use a large casserole type pan on medium to high heat.  Add 2 lugs of olive oil and the oregano.  Add the veggies and stir around the pan until veggies are softened.  Stir in the beef and the canned tomatoes.  Fill one of the empty cans with water and add to the pan.  Stir in a good pinch of salt and pepper.  Pick the basil leaves and place in the fridge for later.  Finely chop the basil stalks and stir into the pan.  Bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring every now and again to stop it catching.

Preheat the oven to 375*.  Remove the sauce from the heat.  Grate the 2 oz of parm into the sauce.  Tear and stir in any larger basil leaves, keeping the smaller ones aside for later.

Make the lasagna

Grate the 4 oz of cheese.  Boil some water in a large pot.  Add all of the lasagna sheets with a drizzle of oil and blanch for about 3-4 minutes.  Drain the sheets in a colander and pat them dry.  Spoon a third of the sauce into the bottom of a lasagna pan.  Follow with a layer of lasagna sheets.  Dollop a third of the sour cream or creme fraiche and smooth it out over the lasagna sheets. Sprinkle with a good pinch of salt and pepper and 1/3 of the grated parm.  Repeat the layers twice more, finishing with the layer of sour cream and cheese.  Top with some slices of tomato and scatter the basil leaves over top.  Drizzle with a little olive oil.  Cover with aluminum foil, place in oven and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the foil and cook for a further 35 minutes until the lasagna is bubbling and golden.  (Total cooking time 55 minutes).

(You'll notice from my picture that I used dried basil instead of fresh, it still tasted good, but fresh basil would have been even better)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Chicken Burritos


This blog has been seriously neglected for a while.  I have a backlog of pictures of meals that haven't been posted.  I drifted in my files all the way back to April to find where I left off.  These burritos are another way to use that rotisserie chicken meat.    They were pretty easy.
vegetable oil
1 onion - sliced into rings
1 red pepper - sliced lengthwise
1 green pepper - sliced lengthwise
tex-mex seasoning
pulled chicken meat
tortillas
fresh cilantro - finely chopped
shredded cheese
sour cream
salsa

Lightly oil a large frying pan.  Set heat at medium-low.  Add onions and peppers.  Sprinkle with Tex-Mex seasoning to your liking.  Saute until the veggies are softened.  Add the chicken meat, mix and heat through.  Remove from heat and set aside
Take a tortilla, add a scoop of chicken/veggie mixture into the centre.  Add cilantro.   Fold into wraps.  Place wraps into a baking dish (lasagna pan size) and bake at 350* for 15 minutes.  Top with sour cream and salsa as desired.