Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Easy Chicken Noodle Soup

Sorry I've been MIA. I was sick, out of town and then my internet connection crashed for an entire week! Health and internet are all better now. This recipe emerged while I was sick and in need of a quick fix comfort dish. Easy peasy.

1 carton chicken stock
1 carrot, peeled and diced small
1 celery stalk, diced small
1/2 of 1 white or red onion, diced
1 chicken breast, pre-cooked & diced*
pinch of salt & fresh cracked pepper
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp oregano
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup macaroni noodles, pre-cooked**

*Cook your chicken breast in a 350 degree F. oven for 10-15 minutes.

**Ensure to pre-cook your noodles! Adding uncooked noodles to your soup will reduce the broth amount as well as release starches and thicken your broth. That's bad news!

1. Add everything to a soup pot and simmer for 20 minutes.

2. Top with fresh chopped parsley if you'd like.

Et Voila!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Brie En Croute with Cranberry Apple Walnut Compote

Another appieI created for my Aunt's 50th birthday bash. Another appie with no photo. C'est la vie! This was another hugely successful and popular dish. My cousin remarked that it tastes like Christmas. That's always a bonus!

Cranberry Apple Walnut Compote:

1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
2 apples - peeled, cored and diced
Zest of 1 small orange (or half 1 large)
1/2 cup apple cider
1/2 cup cranberry sauce
1 tbsp agave syrup or honey
2 cinnamon stick
pinch nutmeg
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1. In saucepan combine cranberries, apple, orange rind and juice. Bring to boil, stirring.

2. Reduce heat to simmer; add agave syrup, cinnamon stick and nutmeg and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until cranberries have popped and apple is tender.

3. Remove from heat and stir in chopped walnuts. Let cool to room temperature. Remove cinnamon sticks.

Brie En Croute:

1 pkg frozen puff pastry, thawed and rolled out to 1/4 inch thick roundish shape
1 cup prepared Cranberry Apple Compote (more as needed)
1 medium wheel of french brie (or whatever size you need)

1. With a sharp knife, slice brie wheel in half horizontally (into two round slices, like a bagel).

2. Scoop half the Cranberry Apple Compote onto the bottom half of the brie wheel. Place the other half of the brie wheel on top and scoop more Cranberry mixture onto it.

3. Place pastry dough on a floured surface and roll to desired size and thickness.

4. Place the brie wheel in the centre of the rolled dough. Fold the dough up over the sides of the cheese, pleating the upper edges to fit snugly around the cheese. Pinch the dough together in the center to seal.

5. At this point, you can freeze your Brie En Croute for when you are ready to use it. Wrap the pastry tightly in plastic wrap and place in a zip lock bag. Freeze for up to two weeks.

6. To bake, lightly grease a cookie sheet and pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

7. Make an egg wash (1 egg beated with a bit of water) and brush the dough evenly and thoroughly with the wash.

8. Bake for 40-50 minutes until pasty is lightly browned. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

9. Transfer brie to a platter and serve with crackers or sliced baguette. Serve the remaining compote in a small dish beside the platter. Be sure to include a sharp cheese knife!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Prosciutto Wapped Roast Pork Tenderloin & Red Wine Gravy

I'm between night shifts tonight so I am in need of something quick. Believe it or not, roast pork tenderloin is almost as fast as boiling pasta. Almost. Contrary to some recipe instructions, a 1 pound piece of tenderloin does not need to cook for 45 minutes. It doesn't even need to cook for 30 minutes. After searing, this little gem only takes 10 minutes in a high oven for medium and 14 minutes for medium-well. Also contrary to what you may have been taught, pork can be a little pink. It's actually better when a little pink. Serve with some simple red wine gravy and you're good to go! If you want it to be even quicker and easier, leave out the prosciutto and just let the pork & simple seasonings shine!

Serves 2

1 lb pork tenderloin
3-4 pieces prosciutto
tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp each salt & pepper (omit salt if using prosciutto)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp vegetable seasoning blend

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Mix seasonings together in a small bowl and rub onto tenderloin.

3. Wrap tenderloin in prosciutto (if using).

4. Place in a large, pre-heated skillet and quickly sear all sides (medium-high heat) so that prosciutto is browned and semi-crisp.

5. If your skillet is oven-safe, place directly into pre-heated oven, uncovered. If not, move tenderloin to a baking sheet or baking pan and place in oven.

6. Cook uncovered for 10-14 minutes (10 mins for medium, 14 mins for medium well).

7. Remove from oven and tent baking pan with foil. Let tenderloin rest for 10 minutes before cutting.

Simple & Quick Red Wine Gravy:

1/2 cup red wine
1 cup water or beef broth
1 package dry brown gravy mix or au jus mix
1 tsp corn starch mixed in 1/3 cup water (if using au jus mix)

1. Add everything to a sauce pan and bring to a boil.

2. Stir continuously until thickened.


I served my pork with Red Wine Sauteed Spinach & Mushrooms, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Asparagus and Broccoli and Red Roasted Potatoes. To drink? Whatever wine was used for cooking, or Pinot Noir pairs nicely with pork. A huge, delicious, satisfying meal.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Marianne Inspired Oatmeal

Last week I tried homemade oatmeal, inspired by Marianne at French Fries to Flax Seeds. One of her breakfast staples is a bowl of oatmeal mixed with whatever she can find in her cupboard. One day it's peanut butter, bananas and dried figs and the next it's blueberries, coconut butter and cocoa nibs. The other day she used Matcha green tea powder and made green oats! I'm not quite as adventurous as Marianne and I am a traditionalist when it comes to oatmeal, so my creation isn't quite as exciting as hers, but it was easily the best darn oatmeal I have ever eaten and has become a regular in my breakfast rotation.

1/2 cup oats (I use Bob's Red Mill Extra Thick Rolled Oats).
1 tsp Apple Pie Spice (see below)
1 tbsp chopped walnuts
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup water (or any combination of milk/water to equal 3/4 cup liquid. Use only water for a vegan meal.)
1/4 cup applesauce or 1 small applesauce/fruit blend cup
1/2 cup assorted fresh or frozen berries/fruit (I've been using a mix of frozen mixed berries and fresh pomegranate seeds. Diced apple is nice too and I love it with blackberries! If using frozen berries, make sure they are thawed! Sometimes I add 1/4 cup dried cranberries as well.)

1. Mix the dry ingredients together in a microwave safe bowl.

2. Add the milk and water and stir together.

3. Microwave for 2-3 minutes, until most of liquid is absorbed. Stir well to mix.

4. Add applesauce and fruit and mix together.

*You could cook your oats on the stove top instead of the microwave. I haven't had the time or desire to do it that way yet.

Apple Pie Spice:
4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1. Mix everything together in an airtight container and use as needed.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Roasted Red Potatoes

It doesn't get any easier or tastier than this!

1/2 lb red potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
course salt (Fleur de Sel is prefect)
fresh ground pepper
fresh chopped parsley or sliced green onion for garnish

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Rinse potatoes and cut into quarters. You could also cut into wedges for mojo style potatoes.

3. Toss potatoes with olive oil.

4. Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer.

5. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes, turning about 1/2 way through cooking.

6. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with course salt and fresh ground pepper. Toss well.

7. Place in serving dish and top with chopped parsley or green onion.

Note: Use the same recipe for new baby potatoes, fingerling potatoes and sweet potatoes!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Red Wine Sautéed Mushrooms & Spinach

I merged my Red Wine Sautéed Mushrooms recipe with 10 Cent's Mushrooms Sautéed with Red Wine and Spinach recipe to come up with the perfect side dish for roasted pork tenderloin. Major delicious.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli & Asparagus

This was one of my Thanksgiving dinner side dishes. These veggies take very little time to cook. They are topped with toasted pine nuts and a balsalmic reduction. Everyone in my family enjoyed the dish. It's a keeper. From The Healthiest Meals on Earth.

Roasted Broccoli & Asparagus:

olive oil
1 lb Brussels spouts
1 bunch asparagus spears
1 large head broccoli
3 whole cloves garlic
salt & pepper
Garlic Balsamic Reduction (see below)
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts or chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Wash and trim the Brussels sprouts. Cut in half lengthwise. Toss the Brussels and garlic cloves in olive oil and arrange on a small baking sheet.

3. Place in oven. Set a timer for 10 minutes.

4. While Brussels are roasting, trim the asparagus. Trim and stem the broccoli and cut the broccoli into long thin pieces. Toss the veggies and arrange on a second small baking sheet.

5. After 10 minutes, place the second baking sheet in the oven along side the Brussels sprouts and roast for another 15 minutes, until vegetables are tender and lightly browned.

6. Remove from oven and place vegetables in serving dish. Make the Garlic Balsamic Reduction and pour over veggies. Add pine nuts. Season with salt and pepper.

Garlic Balsamic Reduction:

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 whole roasted cloves garlic (from above)

1. While vegetables are roasting, add vinegar to a small sauce pan. Simmer over medium heat until vinegar starts to reduce and thicken.

2. When vegetables are cooked, remove roasted garlic pieces. Add reduced vinegar and roasted garlic cloves to a blender and puree.

3. Spoon garlic balsamic reduction over finished vegetables.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Italian Wedding Soup

When I made spaghetti and meatballs the other day, I reserved about 1/4 of the uncooked meatball mix and rolled then baked smaller meatballs to use towards soup. One of the easiest soups to make is Italian Wedding soup, especially if your meatballs are pre-made and ready to go. If you don't have meatballs left over, that's okay. Try the easy ones shown below. And contrary to some reports, the soup is not named Italian Wedding because it is served at Italian weddings. Rather the term "wedding soup" is a mistranslation of "miestra mariata", which means "married soup" in Italian and refers to how well all the ingredients in the soup blend (marry) together.

1 lb ground beef or pork or a combination of both
1 egg
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 small onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Using your hands mix all together to spread ingredients evenly.

2. Using your hands, form into small balls (ping pong or gumball size).

3. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Bake in 350 degree F. oven for 25 minutes or until meatballs are lightly browned.

4 cups chicken broth
2 cups beef broth
1 cup fresh baby spinach, torn into smaller pieces
1/2 carrot, finely chopped
1/2 celery stalk, finely chopped
1/4 cup Orzo pasta or Macaroni, pre-cooked*
Prepared meatballs
salt & pepper to taste

*It is very important to cook your pasta PRIOR to adding to your soup. If you add uncooked pasta, it will absorb your broth and the pasta starch will thicken the soup. You want a very clear, thin broth.

1. Add chicken and beef broth to a large pot and bring to a boil.

2. Add carrot and celery. Reduce heat to medium.

3. Add pasta and meatballs. Add spinach. Reduce heat to medium-low.

4. Simmer for 10 minutes then serve immediately.

Note:You can omit the meatballs entirely to make a very delicious vegetable soup, or add cooked diced chicken or cooked ground beef and more diced veggies for a quick and easy chicken soup or hamburger soup.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Huevos Rancheros with Cooked Salsa

A weekday morning off work means a big breakfast. In my fridge I found three eggs, one flour tortilla, shredded Tex-Mex cheese and some left over homemade salsa. Perfect ingredients for a quick, simple Huevos Racheros.

Huevos Racheros means country-style eggs in Spanish and is a traditional breakfast dish in Mexico. Typically Huevos is made with lightly fried corn tortillas topped with fried eggs and cooked salsa. Some versions include a layer of refried beans or avocado. I add cheese to mine, just because. If you don't have time to make your own salsa, canned salsa works just as well!

Serves 2-4

Cooked Salsa:
splash olive oil
1/2 large white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 can diced green chilies (or two green chili peppers, seeded and diced)
1/2 green pepper and 1/2 red pepper, diced (optional)
pinch sucanat
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp chili powder
handful fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped (reserved)
salt & pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a saute pan. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic and stir.

2. Add tomatoes, chili pepper and bell pepper. Add all seasonings. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 10 mins, stirring occasionally.

3. Remove from heat. Stir in chopped cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


4 small flour or corn tortillas
4 eggs
splash of olive oil plus olive oil cooking spray
1 cup prepared salsa
1/2 cup shredded cheddar, jack or Tex Mex cheese blend
1 can refried beans (optional)
1 avocado, peeled, cored, sliced (optional)
fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Heat olive oil in non-stick saute pan. Add tortillas to pan and heat for a minute on each side. Arrange tortillas on serving plates.

3. Spray the same pan with olive oil cooking spray. Crack eggs into the pan (sunny side up style). Cook until desired yolk "done-ness" is reached (about 4 minutes for runny yolks). After two minutes of cooking, I covered my pan with a lid and cooked the eggs for another 4 minutes for semi-firm yolks.

4. If using refried beans, spread a thin layer of beans on each tortilla.

5. Remove eggs from pan and place one egg on each tortilla. Top with some cooked salsa and shredded cheese.

6. Slide plates into the oven and bake for a few minutes to melt cheese. Remove from oven and garnish with sliced avocado and chopped cilantro.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Spaghetti and Meatballs

I watched an episode of David Rocco's Dolce Vita the other day where he made five different kinds of meatballs. The beef meatballs were made with ricotta cheese and sun dried tomatoes and braised in a smooth and silky tomato sauce. I decided it was a "must try" dish so on tonight's menu: simple spaghetti and meatballs a la David Rocco, served with Terra Breads Italian Cheese Bread.


1lb extra lean ground beef
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
10 sun dried tomatoes, chopped
1 egg
1 cup parmigiana cheese, freshly grated
1 glove garlic, minced
handful fresh Italian parsley, chopped
salt & pepper to taste

1. In a bowl, add all ingredients and mix well. Use you hands to get all the ingredients blended and evenly distributed.

2. Shape meat into small balls, about the size of a golf ball, then pat down to form an oval. This will allow for even cooking.

3. Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add meatballs to pan and sear for about 30 seconds on each side. We're just looking for a quick sear to brown the meat, not to cook the meat.

4. Remove meatballs from pan and set aside until ready to use.

Tomato Sauce:

1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups tomato sauce
1 tsp Italian seasoning
salt & pepper to taste

1. Using the same pot that was used to cook the meatballs, add a bit more oil and heat. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add tomato sauce and Italian seasoning. Bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Lower heat to medium.

2. Add partially cooked meatballs to the pot and cook uncovered for 30 minutes.

3. Serve sauce and meatballs over cooked spaghetti noodles. Top with more shredded parmigiana cheese and fresh chopped parsley.


Save a small amount of the uncooked meatball mix for soup! I used about 3/4 of the mix to make meatballs for this recipe and with the reserved 1/4 mix, I rolled small meatballs (large gumball size) and baked them in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. When cooled, I placed in a seal-able container and refrigerated until I was ready to make my soup.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pomegranate Persimmon Apple Salad

It's persimmon and pomegranate season! What better way to make use of these two delicious fruits than to make a simple salad. I also threw in some sliced Grapple, but any old apple would do, or try pear instead of apple! The dressing recipe is courtesy of POM.

Pomegranate Persimmon Apple Salad:
Assorted mixed greens (I used 1 bag of mixed greens)
1/2 pomegranate, seeded (about 1 cup)
1 persimmon, quartered and sliced (peeled if you wish)
1 apple, diced
1/4 cup sliced, toasted almonds or pine nuts
1/4 cup blue, goat or feta cheese crumbles

1. Add salad greens, pomegranate seeds, persimmon and apple to a large serving bowl. Toss to mix. Sprinkle nuts and cheese on top. Serve with dressing.

POM Honey Dijon Dressing:
1 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 lemon, juice and zest
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 cup grape seed oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Add everything to a container with a tight fitting lid. Shake to mix well.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Mexcian Fiesta Rice

I was in need of a side dish for my baked crisp beef burritos so I came up with a fiesta in a bowl. Rice cooked with tomatoes and flavourful broth. Bright colours from veggies and a splash of lime juice for little kick. Ole!

2 cups long grain brown rice
1 cup beef braising broth (from Beef Taquitos OR 1 cup vegetable or regular beef broth
1/2 cup water
1 can diced tomatoes with juice
1 medium jalapeno, seeded and diced
1/2 small red onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 tsp salt
1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of 1/2 a lime

1. Rinse rice in a fine mesh strainer under cool water. This will help remove some of the starch and make your finished rice more fluffy.

2. Add first 8 ingredients to a pot and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Simmer 15 minutes or until all liquid is mostly absorbed (should be reduced by at least 1 cup). Pour rice into a shallow oven safe baking dish. Spread evenly. Cover with foil.

3. Bake in oven at 375 degrees F. for 25 minutes or until liquid is completely absorbed and rice is tender.

4. Remove from oven. Fluff again and fold in chopped cilantro and lime juice.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Baked Crisp Beef Burritos

I had some ingredients left over from the Beef Taquito Bites so I whipped up (I use the term loosely) some crisp beef burritos. I used the left over beef broth to braise the beef in this recipe but it isn't necessary. You can easily create a new broth! The end result was very flavourful and filling.

1 pk of stewing beef or stir fry beef strips
1 tbsp Mexican Seasoning (see below)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 carton (1L) beef broth
3 cloves garlic, minced (or combination of roasted & fresh, blended together)
1 can diced green chilies

1. Rub Mexican seasoning into beef pieces.

2. Heat oil in a saute pan (one with a lid) over high heat. When oil is hot, sear beef to brown slightly.

3. Reduce heat to medium. Add beef broth, diced green chilies and garlic. Add another tsp of Mexican seasoning. Bring to a boil.

4. Reduce heat to low (or Minimum heat setting) and cover pan. Let beef braise for 1-2 hours.

5. When beef is finished braising, remove beef and strain broth into another bowl. Toss the chili and garlic residue. Save broth for another use, if you wish. It will keep in the fridge for a couple days.

6. Using kitchen shears, cut beef into 1/4 inch pieces (or dice using a sharp knife). Beef is now ready!

Mexican Seasoning:

2 tbsp oregano
1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
pinch ground cloves
pinch ground cinnamon

1. Mix all in a container with a tight fitting lid. Use as needed.


1 pkg large flour tortillas
Prepared beef
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 stalks green onion, sliced
1 medium jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 can sliced olives, drained
1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup shredded cheddar or jack cheese or tex mex cheese blend
cooking spray

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Spay cookie sheet with cooking spray.

2. Place beef in a bowl and layer with red and green onion, jalapeno, olives, cilantro and cheese. Mix well.

3. Microwave tortillas for 30-60 seconds until soft and pliable.

4. Scoop 3-4 spoonfuls of mixture into the centre of each tortilla. Fold in edges and roll to form a tight, closed burrito.

5. Place burritos on cookie sheet and spray tops with more cooking spray.

6. Bake in oven for 10 minutes per side.

7. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes, then cut each burrito in half on a bias.

8. Serve with garnish of your choice!


sour cream
more shredded cheese
sliced green onion
chopped cilantro
red pepper or jalapeno jelly

Serve with Mexican Fiesta Rice!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Whole Wheat Banana Almond Pancakes

For some reason I woke up craving pancakes. I've never been a huge pancake fan. In the world of breakfast I will take bacon and eggs over pancakes everyday of the week and twice on Sunday. But today is Wednesday and I'd like some pancakes. These ones are made from whole wheat flour, wheat germ, flax meal and apple sauce.I would have added blueberries but I didn't have any on hand. Regardless, there's all sorts of good stuff going on in the mix!

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 tbsp flax seed meal (ground flax seed)
1 1/2 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
1 tbsp sucanat
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt
1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 banana, peeled and diced
1/4 cup sliced raw almonds

1. Mix dry ingredients (first 8) together. Add apple sauce, vanilla and milk. If batter is too thick, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency reached. Fold in almond and banana.

2. Heat large frying pan over medium-low heat. Spray with olive oil cooking spray. When pan is heated, pour badder into pan, forming small circles of about 1/3 cup each. Pancakes are ready to flip when small bubbles form on the top. Usually takes 2-3 minutes on first side then just a minute or two on the second side.

3. Serve with REAL maple syrup, butter and more diced banana.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Crab and Corn Salad on Corn Chips

Another delicious appetizer dish for which I have no accompanying photo. This was an even more popular dish than the Beef Taquito Bites, especially the next day when I took the left overs to work. It's such a fresh tasting treat and would be excellent on a hot summer day paired with a crisp, cool white.

6 6-1/2 inch corn tortillas
olive oil spray
1 brick cream cheese, softened at room temp (250g)
3 tbsp mayonnaise
1 bunch green onions, sliced thin, half reserved
1 small shallot, diced fine
1 stalk celery, diced small
1 cup fresh REAL crab meat(or canned crab meat) REAL, not imitation
2 cans whole corn kernels
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Optional: diced red chili pepper, diced red or yellow bell pepper

If you have Crab Dip Mix (Epicure and Gourmet du Village make really good ones) use that instead of the seasonings (everything below lemon juice).

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Stack tortillas and trim the edges to form squares. Cut the stack into four equal pieces, making squares. Cut each square in half diagonally to form triangles.

2. Spray a large cookie sheet with olive oil spray. Arrange the tortillas on the cookie sheet. Season with a sprinkle of course salt (I used a special garlic chili salt. Delicious!). Bake in oven until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Do not let them over bake. Set aside to cool.

3. Mix together cream cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice and seasonings. Stir in the celery, shallot, green onion, corn and crab meat. Adjust seasonings as needed. Refrigerate until ready to use.

4. To assemble, top each chip with 1 tbsp of corn and crab salad. Sprinkle some green onions on top for garnish.


- Instead of topping the chips with the salad, use it as a dip. Put the salad in a heat proof bowl. Add some shredded jack cheese and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

- Make a crab salad sandwich! Spread it on crusty bread or stuff it in a pita. Perfect for a picnic!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Braised and Shredded Beef Taquito Bites

Last night I helped make some appies for my aunt's 50th birthday surprise party. These Taquito bites were very popular. This is a multi-part recipe but the end result is so, so good! Unfortunately the end result was SO good, that I wasn't able to get a picture. I do plan to make these again one day though so I will be sure to post a picture eventually.

**Finally got some pictures of the taquitos. I made them again for my cousin's baby shower and they were even more popular!**

Braised and Shredded Beef Taquito Bites


2lb beef round roast
2-3 tbsp Mexican Seasoning (see below)
1 tbsp cooking oil
2 small cans diced green chilies, 1 reserved until end
1/2 head of roasted garlic (4-5 cloves)
2 cloves fresh garlic, pressed
1 carton beef broth

1. Generously rub the roast using the Mexican Seasoning. Ensure to coat all sides and rub it in using your fingers.

2. In a hot, oiled pan, sear the roast on all sides.

3. While beef is searing, in a small bowl, mix roasted garlic with fresh garlic and mash with a fork to form a puree.

4. Using tongs, place beef in a slow cooker. Cover with diced green chilies and garlic puree. Pour beef broth into pot to mostly cover the beef.

5. Set slow cooker to high heat and set the timer for 4 hours.

6. When beef is cooked, remove from slow cooker and place into a bowl. Using two forks, shred the beef into small pieces.

7. Strain broth into a bowl. Discard left over chili and garlic pieces. Add 1/4 cup of strained broth back to the beef. Mix together well. Beef should be moist but not dripping.

8. Add the second can of chopped green chilies and mix well. Add more broth if required.

Note: Save your broth for next time you make Tortilla Soup, add a bit to mashed potatoes, use it to cook Mexican rice or mix a 1/2 cup with 1 tsp Mexican seasoning and add to ground beef for delicious Tacos!

Mexican Seasoning:

2 tbsp oregano
1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
pinch ground cloves
pinch ground cinnamon

1. Mix all in a container with a tight fitting lid. Use as needed.


1 pk large flour tortillas
Prepared shredded beef

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet, or use parchment paper.

2. Heat tortillas in microwave for 30 seconds so they are more pliable.

3. Place a couple tablespoons of beef off centre on each tortilla. Ensure to fill right from end to end.

4. Gently roll the tortilla into a tight tube shape. If required, you can secure rolls with a toothpick.

5. Place rolls on cookie sheet and spray with cooking spray.

6. Bake in pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes until tortillas are crisp and lightly browned. Half way through cooking, turn taquitos. Keep an eye on them to be sure not to over cook.

7. Let cool slightly then remove toothpicks and cut each tortilla in half, then each half in half again (each roll will provide 4 "bites").

8. Serve with sour cream, guacamole and salsa. I served mine with sour cream mixed with a couple teaspoons of taco seasoning. Very good.


- Beef can be prepared up to a day in advance. Any more than that and it will lose moisture.
- Taquitos can also be prepared a day in advance. The tortillas may get a little soft or "moist" on the bottom, but that will be fixed when baked. Start baking with the moist side turned up.
- Instead of cutting into "bites", keep them in halves or whole for a snack or dinner entree.
- Add shredded jack cheese to your Taquitos. Place it in the middle on top of the meat mixture about 1/2 inch down from the edges to ensure no cheese leakage while baking.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Roasted Garlic

Please excuse the horrible picture. My DSLR was charging so I was left with the ol' point and shoot. I will try to make up for it next time I roast garlic - which I am certain to do. When garlic is roasted, the flavour becomes more mild and the texture is creamy and rich. It is great rubbed on croustini and even better in mashed potatoes. And surprisingly, it's very easy to make!

2 heads of garlic
drizzle olive oil
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Peel outer layers from garlic, leaving the skins of the bulbs intact.

3. Cut the top off each head (about 1/4 inch down), exposing the cloves.

4. Place the heads in a garlic baker, brie baker or wrap them in foil.

5. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

6. Place in hot oven and bake for 30-35 minutes. Cloves should feel soft when pressed.

7. Let garlic cool before handling. Use a knife to to cut the skin around each clove. Squeeze out the roasted garlic or use a fork to pull out the whole clove.


- Eat it as is
- Spread it on toast for fresh roasted garlic toast
- Mix with mashed potatoes
- Add to pasta sauce
- Eat on a cracker (makes a great, fun appie!)
- Use it in salsa (with roasted tomatoes)
- Make your own roasted garlic Caesar dressing

Roasted garlic can be stored in the fridge for several days.

Coming sometime soon... A Shredded Beef Taquito recipe. The beef is braised in a broth of roasted garlic puree and diced green chilies. It's killer.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Organic - To Buy or Not to Buy

The "organic dilemma" conversation has came up with a co-worker a couple times in the last few weeks. She heard or was told to alwyays buy this organic or buy that organic and she wasn't sure if it was absolutely necessary. Organic food is more expensive, there is no question. The price difference can range from 5%-50%, depending on what you're buying and where you're shopping. There is also the argument that organic food is no better for you than regular food.

A study published in the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition in July 2009 found "a small number of differences in nutrient content [...] between organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs, but these are unlikely to be of any public health relevance".

The study does not address the issue of pesticides. I don't know about you, but I don't buy organic vegetables thinking my organic carrot has more vitamin A than a conventionally grown carrot. I buy the organic carrot thinking it contains no pesticide or other chemical residue. Is the organic carrot healthier for me? No, probably not. Do I feel better about eating it? Absolutely.

The U.S. Dept of Agriculture periodically monitors and tests produce from around the world for chemical residue. The foods then get a rating on a scale of 100. A low rating means less chemical reside and a high rating means more residue. They also found that even after washing, some fruits and vegetables carry much higher levels of pesticide residue than others.

Based on the analysis of over 100,000 residue tests, the USDA came up with the "dirty dozen" - the top 12 produce items that should always be bought organic due to high levels of chemical residue found on the conventional product.(MSNBC.)

The Dirty Dozen:

* Apples (in 2005 Apples rated 89 out of 100!)
* Cherries
* Imported Grapes
* Nectarines
* Peaches
* Pears
* Raspberries
* Strawberries
* Bell peppers
* Celery
* Potatoes
* Spinach

On the flip side, the USDA also published the top 12 produce items that tested the lowest for chemical residue. They say it is not necessary to buy these items in organic form.

The "Clean" Dozen:

* Bananas
* Kiwi
* Mangos
* Papaya
* Pineapples
* Asparagus
* Avocado
* Broccoli
* Cauliflower
* Corn
* Onions
* Peas

If you look at the two lists, a common theme comes up that can help you remember when to buy organic. This isn't always the case, but it is a good rule of thumb. If you are going to eat the skin, buy organic. If you are going to peel it, buy conventional.

If you enjoy scientific data, read the USDA Pesticide Data Program Report, 2006.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pasta e Patate

Another day, another pasta dish. You can't beat the ease of preparation when it comes to Italian cooking (usually). Tonight's recipe comes from David Rocco's Dolce Vita on Food Network Canada.

"Pasta e Patate" is a traditional recipe from Naples. It's a very rustic dish that can be served as a soup or pasta dish (by simmering and reducing the broth). It's a very interesting dish. Pasta and potatoes? How odd. But the starch from the pasta and the starch from the potatoes come together to make such a rich, creamy sauce... it's almost like a risotto of the pasta world. It would probably be delicious with some chorizo and diced plum tomatoes. A sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley wouldn't hurt either. You could skip the prosciutto for a vegetarian dish but... I wouldn't. :)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
4-5 slices prosciutto or pancetta, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 fresh chili pepper, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups small pasta or broken spaghetti
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 cup pecorino romano cheese, chopped fine
1/2 cup parmigiano cheese, freshly grated

1. Heat EVOO in a large sauce pan. Add proscitto and cook until crisp.

2. Add onion, celery, carrot, chili pepper, salt and pepper. Saute until onions are soft.

3. Add potatoes. Let saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring often to prevent the potatoes from sticking.

4. Add water, tomato sauce and Italian seasoning. Stir then add pasta. Mix together well. Let simmer for 5 minutes. Add a little more water, 1/2 cup at a time, as the pasta and potatoes absorb the liquids.

5. Add pecorino cheese. Cook for a few more minutes until cheese has softened and sauce is thickened and creamy. If you would prefer a soup, add more water.

6. Spoon into serving bowls. Drizzle with good quality olive oil and sprinkle with fresh grated parmigiano cheese. Let cool before serving. (David Rocco says it is best at room temperature. I find it too good to let it sit long enough to find out if he's right!)

I served this with a side salad, fresh garlic rubbed toast and a glass of milk, although a dry red would be nice too.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Quick Pasta Dinner

It's my first day off and I'm coming off a night shift. I have no groceries and no desire to cook. This is always my dinner dilemma day. I considered take out, ice cream and skipping dinner altogether but none of those options were very appetizing. Enter the Quick Pasta Dinner. Made from ingredients most everyone would have on hand, even when the fridge is bare. It takes less than 20 minutes to prepare and could be made in one pot, instead of the two that I use. Pair with a crisp, cold white and you're in fast food heaven - REAL fast food, that is!

Olive Oil, Garlic & Parmesan Pasta:

Serves 2

Pasta of your choice (spaghetti, linguine, penne etc.)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp crushed chilies
1/4 cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated (or more if you like it cheesy!)
1/4 cup pine nuts
large handful fresh parsley, chopped (freeze dried or dried works too)
Freshly Ground Black Pepper and salt to taste.

1. Cook pasta per package directions and drain.

2. While pasta is cooking, mince garlic and chop parsley. Toast pine nuts for a minute or two in a dry saute pan over medium low heat, just until the nuts start to brown. Remove nuts from pan and set aside.

3. Heat oil in saute pan over medium-low heat. Add garlic and crushed chilies. Saute for 2 minutes.

4. Add drained pasta to the saute pan and stir together with garlic and chilies. Add pine nuts. Saute for another couple minutes.

5. Remove pan from heat. Add Parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper. If needed, add generous a drizzle of olive oil.

6. Stir together. Spoon into bowls and top with another sprinkle of fresh parsley and more crushed chilies.

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