Thursday, March 31, 2011

Things I've cooked recently...

Time to share some great recipes I tried out recently...

The Pioneer Woman's Chicken Cacciatore - I modified the recipe and made it in a slow cooker. I browned the chicken, minus the flour coating, then added everything (plus a can of chicken broth) to the slow cooker and set it on low for 6 hours. The results were good and it was very tasty. Probably would have been better in the oven like PW does it, but my work schedule required a slow cooker dinner.

Shredded Beef Sliders from Evil Shenanigans. The beef in this dish was delicious. At first I found it a bit spicy but after reducing the sauce and adding honey (instead of all that sugar), it was absolutely perfect. I tossed the shredded beef with the sauce and served it on a whole wheat roll. Just like a BBQ Beef Sandwich. I will make this again for sure! The mixture freezes well too. Not a true down South BBQ Beef Brisket sandwich, but pretty darn close.

S'Mores Brownies from Buns In My Oven. I made these to take to work one night. Since I was taking them to work I chose to use my creme brule torch instead of broiling the marshmallows at home. Fun, but WHAT A MESS! But the brownies were very tasty.

St. Patrick's Day Chocolate Spritz Cookies. I still haven't figured out how to use my cookie press so instead for Spritz, I rolled the dough and made slice & bake cookies. The cookies were very good but the icing (royal icing) wasn't the right consistency for sandwiching between two cookies. I think a butter cream frosting would have been better. I ended up drizzling the icing over the cookies in a zig zag pattern. They looked neat and tasted good.

The Pioneer Woman's Chicken Scallopine. This one was so-so. The meal itself was tasty but I ran into some issues during the cooking process. First, my chicken did not cook through during the initial pan frying. I ended up browning the breasts in the pan and finished them off in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or so. The second issue, and this was the most disappointing one, when I added the cream to the sauce, it separated (curdled!). I suspect it's because of the lemon juice. Next time I would add lemon juice at the end, rather than in the middle. The sauce tasted great but looked kind of funky. The last change I made was to add the cooked noodles to the pan with sauce, tossed it around and cooked it together for a minute so the noodles sucked up all the yummy sauce.

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Bites. The Pioneer Woman calls them Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Thingies. Whatever you call them, they are delicious and simple! I have made them twice now and both times my guests were impressed. Definite crowd pleaser and a must-have for the next party

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Carrot Apple Fennel Slaw

I have some left over cabbage from last week's Braised Red Cabbage dish so the easiest way to use it up is in a slaw. You can make it even easier buy buying a bag of pre-cut coleslaw, broccoli slaw or carrot slaw mix and add in the fennel and apple. The dressing is a vinaigrette, but if you like it creamier, add more mayonnaise.

Adapted from Evil Shenanigans.

1/4 red cabbage, shredded or sliced fine
1/4 green cabbage, shredded or sliced fine
3 carrots, peeled and shredded or cut into matchsticks
1 fennel bulb, sliced thin
1 apple (any variety), cored and cut into matchsticks (Peel is okay!)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
pinch sea salt
pinch pepper
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds

1. Add all vegetables to a large serving bowl and toss well.

2. In a small bowl, add mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Whisk together until well blended and smooth.

3. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss to evenly coat. Top with sunflower seeds.

*For a meal-size salad, top your slaw with some roasted chicken breast.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Oysters Two Ways: Raw on Half Shell & Baked with Parmesan

It's oyster day at my house. Vancouver Island oysters were on sale at the market so I bought a dozen. When bought at the grocery store or fish market, oysters are incredibly affordable - usually ranging from $0.50 to $1.00 each; Much cheaper than restaurant oysters which are often marked up 300-500%!

I'm going to share my two favourite ways to enjoy oysters. The first is raw, on the half shell with a few flavourful accompaniments. The second is baked in the oven, topped with breadcrumbs, herbs and cheese.

First thing first though... you have to open your oysters. As I said last time I shucked oysters at home, I'm no expert. A proper oyster knife is key. For other tips, I suggest you take a few minutes searching the internet for a good tutorial.

Jill's Favourite Way to Eat Oysters on the Half Shell:

6 fresh oysters (any size), shucked & on the half shell
3 lemon wedges
Worcestershire sauce
3 teaspoons prepared horseradish (I prefer fresh grated but it's not easy to find!)

Arrange oysters on an ice-covered plate. Squeeze lemon over each oyster. Add a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce to each and top with a 1/2 teaspoon of horseradish.


Baked Parmesan Oysters:

2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
pinch each salt & pepper
1 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped fine
6 fresh oysters (any size), shucked & on the half shell
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, shredded
2 lemon wedges (optional)

1. Pre-heat oven to 357 degrees F.

2. In a small bowl, mix together bred crumbs, salt & pepper and parsley.

3. Arrange oysters on a baking sheet. To ensure oysters stay upright, pour 1 cup of course salt on the baking sheet and nest oysters into the salt (this is also a great presentation technique!). On each oyster, sprinkle 1/2 clove of minced garlic and 1/2 tablespoon of the breadcrumb mixture. Drizzle melted butter over each oyster and top with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

4. Bake in pre-heated oven for 20 minutes, or until tops are lightly browned and cheese melted. Serve immediately. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the oysters if you desire.

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Clean Out The Fridge Vegetable Soup

I'm terrible when it comes to eating my vegetables. I throw out so much produce, it's ridiculous. Last week I had some limp celery, wilting carrots, a wrinkled zucchini and a soft bell pepper. Not wanting to put them to waste (yet again) I decided to chop everything up and throw it in a pot. The resulting soup was easy and fast to make and quite tasty. The below recipe is what I put into my soup, but you can add anything you have on hand.

1 zucchini, chopped
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 cups vegetable stock (or any stock)
2 cups water
salt & pepper
dried herbs of your choice (parsley, basil, celery seed etc.)

1. Add everything to a stock pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes until vegetables are tender.

2. Remove pot from heat. Using an immersion blender, puree mixture until desired consistency reached. Serve immediately. Freezes well too!

*You don't have to puree your soup, I just prefer puree over chunky.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Poutine! The quintessential French-Canadian comfort food. Fries covered in fresh cheese curds and gravy. Does it get any better than that? While at the Farmer's Market a couple of weeks ago, I picked up some farm fresh cheese curds. In my area fresh curds are hard to find. Heck, even un-fresh curds are hard to find! This was a real treat and I wasn't about to let it go to waste.

From Wikipedia:

In the basic recipe for poutine, French fries are topped with fresh cheese curds, and covered with brown gravy or sauce. The French fries are of medium thickness, and fried so that the inside stays soft, while the outside is crunchy. The gravy used is generally a light chicken, veal or turkey gravy, mildly spiced with a hint of pepper, or a sauce brune which is a combination of beef and chicken stock, originating in Quebec. Heavy beef or pork-based brown gravies are rarely used. Fresh cheese curds (not more than a day old) are used. To maintain the texture of the fries, the cheese curd and gravy is added immediately prior to serving the dish.

In the past when I made poutine I would use a packet of powdered Poutine Gravy Mix. This time I decided to try my own. It turned out well and was quite easy. I used pre-cut frozen fries because they bake up crispy on the outside and soft on the inside - perfect for a traditional Poutine. Serve for lunch or dinner; as a side or a main.

For the gravy I mixed half a cup of chicken broth, half cup of beef broth and a splash of red wine in a saucepan. I simmered it on medium-high heat until it was reduced by a third. I added a teaspoon of cornstarch mixed with a splash of water and whisked until the sauce thickened. Finally, I seasoned it with salt and pepper. I baked the fries until crisp and placed them on a plate. I sprinkled a generous amount of cheese curds on top of the fries then drizzled with an equally generous amount of piping hot gravy. Delicious!

P.S... It's pronounced "Poo-Tin" but since French is my second language, I'm okay with "Poo-Tine". ;-)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Braised Red Cabbage & Apples

I picked up some Bratwurst from the Redl's Home Grown Beef stand at the market last week. When I think of Bratwurst, normally I think of a huge juicy hot dog. But it's a new day my friends. I'm going to Mexico in two months. I need to think about my "figure". Instead of brats on crusty rolls, slathered in condiments, I'm sticking with the German theme and cooking up a big pot of braised red cabbage.

Adapted from "A Cook's Bible: Gluten Free, Wheat Free & Dairy Free Recipes.

1 medium red cabbage, 1.5 - 2lbs - halved, cored and sliced thinly
3 large baking apples - peeled, cored and diced
1 medium onion, halved and sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground allspice, divided
3 tablespoons honey*
salt & pepper to taste
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons butter*

1. Pre-heat oven to 300°F. Grease a large baking dish or dutch oven with butter.

2. Arrange half the shredded cabbage in the bottom of the dish. Top with half the apples, onion and garlic. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon allspice, 2 tablespoons honey and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Repeat process with a second layer using remaining ingredients.

3. Pour vinegar over top of everything. Dot small pieces of butter over top. Cover dish with a lid and bake in pre-heated oven for 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes, until cabbage is tender. Remove from oven and serve with grilled or broiled bratwursts. (Mashed potatoes makes a great accompaniment too!)

*Sub out non-dairy margarine for butter and agave syrup for honey and you have a vegan side dish!*

This post is part of Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade.

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