Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Oreo Truffles

I'm trying to get better at baking/making desserts. I feel like a good dessert is the finishing touch to a great meal.

I took a stab at making Oreo Truffles and they were a hit! Using Kraft's Easy Oreo Truffle recipe, I crushed nearly a whole bag of oreo cookies and mixed it well with fat free cream cheese. Then I made small little balls and set aside.

I melted an entire packet of Baker's Semi- sweet chocolate squares and using a spoon, dunked the balls in the chocolate.

I set them on parchment paper, topped each with sprinkles and refrigerated for an hour - et voila!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Cornish hens- Your own personalized chickens!

So cute! I made a couple of cornish hens - they are too cute! They turned out great

Using the Roasted Cornish Hen recipe from Down Home With the Neelys, the recipe was a simple rub of poultry seasoning, salt, pepper, dried basil and
olive oil - that's it!

I roasted the hens for just over an hour at 375 and they were juicy and the skin was delicious!

I put a little too much oil because the skin wasn't as brown as I would have liked - next time.

How cute would cooking a bunch of these be for a holiday dinner? Everyone gets their own personalized chicken!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dear Kim, fellow floggers and foodies,

Do you have a crockpot/slow cooker and if so, what recipes turned out really good?

I used it for the second time on the weekend and make chicken jamabalaya. After 4 hours of paranoia of whether the chicken and sausage were actually cooked and we weren't going to get salmonella, I poured it over steaming rice and it was decent.

What I think got my goat was that I know I could really stepped up that dish by doing it in the pan. I could have developed the flavours, spices and improved the presentation plus not be worried. BUT.. then I would have been cooking a lot longer.

.So, I'm not sure what to do or really how to use this crockpot without feeling like I could have done it better by hand..

- A very crock-fused Mandy

Spaghetti with Butternut Squash and Prosciutto

This recipe happened by accident but what a happy accident it turned out to be! I had made butternut squash casserole for a (cancelled) Christmas dinner party and had a lot leftover, so I decided to toss it with cheese and pasta. There's only so much you can take when it comes to leftovers so instead of tossing it out, I like to reinvent it. I've had ravioli with butternut squash before so it led me to believe that my leftover butternut squash casserole would work well with pasta, creamy cheese and salty prosciutto. It was a match made in heaven. Would have been even lovelier with fresh sage or basil but I didn't have any.

1 butternut squash, halved
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp cream cheese
3 tbsp parmesan cheese
4 slices prosciutto chopped
spaghetti cooked al dente

Roast butternut squash cut side down in 350 oven for about 45 minutes or until tender.
When squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out flesh into a large bowl, and add butter maple syrup cinnamon and salt and pepper to taste and purée with a hand mixer until smooth. Add a little apple juice or water if the consistency is too thick.
Pour hot squash puree over spaghetti and cut cream cheese into little cubes tossing to coat the spaghetti and melt the cheese. Top with prosciutto and parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Roast Chicken

This is one of my favorite recipes! I saw it on a Martha Stewart DVD and had to make it. This is pretty much a guaranteed winner every time!

The original recipe is from Norma Darden of Miss Mamie's Spoonbread in NYC and was shown on Martha Stewart's DVD.

The only difference from the ingredients is that I basted the chicken with an entire bottle of white wine and threw in some onions at the bottom of the pan for flavor.

I served the chicken with roasted red potatoes in rosemary and thyme.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Chicken Enchiladas

When I go grocery shopping, I seldom go down all the aisles. But since baby fell asleep in the shopping cart, I wanted her to nap so I took my time.
I ended up getting some inspiration to make Mexican food. I used a lot of shortcuts in this recipe so it was easy to throw this together.

8 flour tortillas
1 box Spanish rice cooked to directions
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts sliced
1 onion, sliced
1/2 red pepper sliced
1/2 green pepper sliced
1 package Fajita sauce mix
2 cups shredded cheddar/jack cheese

Mexi-ranch sauce
Mix together:
1/3 cup ranch dressing
1/4 cup salsa
2 tbsp sour cream

Cook rice according to boxed directions. Meanwhile, stir fry onion, chicken strips and peppers until cooked through. Add fajita seasoning to package directions.
Spread half of the mexi-ranch sauce to the bottom of a baking dish.
Fill tortilla with a sprinkling of cheese, some Spanish rice and some of the chicken fajita mixture; roll tightly and place in baking dish seam side down.
Once all tortillas are filled and rolled, top with the remainder of the mexi-ranch sauce and rest of the shredded cheese.
Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes until cheese is bubbling and browned.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Leek Potato and Chickpea Soup

To use up the rest of the leeks I bought, I decided to make a leek soup. To be honest, cream of leek soup was about the only thing I thought leeks were actually used for. Now that I know the mild creamy flavour a little better, I will definitely be cooking with leeks more often and in more creative ways. This soup was actually very delicious...I kinda just made up the recipe as I went along. I reserved about 1/4 can of the chickpeas from my hummus and added it to the recipe and it added great body to the soup.

2 large leeks washed thoroughly and sliced into half moons
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1/4 can chickpeas
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 tsp cumin
2 tbsp cream cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Sauté leeks and garlic and cumin with a little butter in a large pot until fragrant and softened. Add potatoes, chickpeas and chicken stock and simmer until potatoes are cooked (20 minutes or so). Remove from heat, stir in cream cheese and purée (careful not to splash, it's hot!) with an immersion blender until smooth.

Spicy Hummus

My father-in-law taught me many kitchen lessons. With his hummus recipe I learned:
1. Making your own hummus is easy and tastier than the store-bought version
2. Remembering to keep the lid on the blender is easier than cleaning hummus off of the ceiling.
xo, Trevor ;) !

1 can chickpeas drained and rinsed
2 tbsp tahini
3-4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp chili powder (not Mexican chili powder...Indian chili powder, or you can use cayenne)
1/4 tps cumin
salt & pepper to taste

Place everything in a blender (don't forget to close the lid!!) and purée until smooth. Add a little water to loosen as necessary. I garnished this with an extra sprinkling of cumin and chili powder. Serve with warm naan or pita.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Veal Meatballs with Fingerling Potatoes, Green Beans and Leek Saffron Cream Cheese Sauce

Sharl felt like meatballs for dinner, but instead of making them with traditional red sauce and spaghetti, I experimented a little and came up with this...it was SO good!
I've never cooked leeks before, so of course I couldn't resist buying some to try!
To wash leeks properly (because there is a lot of sand and soil hidden in the layers), cut leeks lenghtwise and slice thinly crosswise into half moon. Immerse leeks in a large bowl of cold water and separate layers to allow dirt to fall to the bottom of the bowl. They are so delicious with a really mild onion flavour. I'm already thinking about what to make with the rest of the leeks!

500g ground veal
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
2-3 tbsp Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 egg
1 large leek sliced (white parts and light green parts only)
splash of vermouth or brandy
3 tbsp cream cheese
1/2 cup milk
pinch of saffron
Fingerling potatoes, scrubbed
Green beans, trimmed

Place fingerling potatoes in a pot of water to boil for about 15-17 minutes.
Meanwhile, use a fork to gently mix ground veal, half of the minced garlic, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, thyme and egg in a large bowl. Form into meatballs and fry in a non-stick skillet until browned and cooked through (about 7 minutes per side). When meatballs are cooked, remove from pan and allow to rest on a plate lined with paper towel.
Add the green beans to the pot of potatoes to steam for about 10 minutes while you cook the cream sauce.
Add a little olive oil to the pan and sauté the rest of the garlic and the leeks until softened. (You can add a splash of vermouth or brandy at this point if desired...I added vermouth) Melt the cream cheese in the pan and add enough milk to thin out the sauce a little. Add pinch of saffron and season with salt and pepper. Serve sauce over meatballs and serve alongside fingerling potatoes and steamed green beans.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Boxed Baby Lunches

Found this really cool blog where a woman takes pictures of her baby's boxed lunches. I wish my mom made me lunches like this when I was a kid. Maybe I'll do this for my baby one day???

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Vegetable Soup with Wild Rice and Lentils

I didn't intend on cooking vegan last night, but I had so many fresh veggies in the fridge that I felt inspired and wanted to cook them all! I never knew a vegetable stock could be so flavourful. This soup was very comforting and tasty and I didn't miss the meat. I served the soup with sweet potato and rapini salad. Extra veggie goodness!
3 ribs celery sliced (set aside half of a celery sliced)
2 large carrots diced (set aside half of a carrot diced)
1 large onion diced
6 mushrooms sliced (set aside 2 mushrooms sliced)
2 tomatoes diced (set aside 1 tomato diced)
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/3 cup lentils
1/3 cup wild rice
2 cups spinach


Vegetable Stock
Heat olive oil in a large pot and sauté celery, carrots, onions and mushrooms until caramelized. Add tomatoes, bay leaf, soy sauce and thyme and mix through. Add about 5 cups of water and allow to simmer for at least 20 minutes to make a flavourful stock. Season with salt and pepper.
Strain stock veggies and discard (they've done their job).

Add the reserved carrots, celery, mushrooms and tomatoes into the stock along with the rice and lentils. Simmer until rice and lentils are cooked through (about 50 minutes). Just before serving add the spinach into the pot and ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with a couple of extra spinach leaves.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Rapini Salad with Sunflower Seeds

I love rapini. It kind of reminds me of gai lan (Chinese broccoli) but with a slightly bitter bite. I happen to like the contrasting tastes of bitter and sweet, but if you don't like rapini, you could always substitute broccoli in this recipe.

6 stalks of rapini chopped in 2-inch lengths
1 large sweet potato peeled and cut into medium cubes
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 lemon, juiced
1 green onion sliced finely
2 tbsp sunflower seeds

Bake sweet potato cubes tossed in a little olive oil in a 400 F oven for about 30 minutes until tender but not mushy.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet and add smashed garlic to infuse oil. Once fragrant, remove garlic pieces and sauté rapini until bright green and tender crisp (about 6 minutes).
Remove from heat and add lemon juice, green onions, sunflower seeds and roasted sweet potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine salad. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Chicken Milanese with Caramelized Fennel, Tomato and Arugula

Sharl felt like schnitzel tonight, so I decided to make this version I saw on Everyday Italian to the best of my memory.
I LOVE fennel. I think it's such an underused vegetable. It's got a texture sort of like celery and when it's cooked, the licorice flavour mellows out beautifully. If you haven't tried it before...this is the recipe to use!
2 chicken cutlets
Flour for dredging
1 egg lightly beaten
Parmesan cheese
1 fennel bulb (fronds and outer layer removed and thinly sliced)
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 clove garlic minced
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 generous handfuls of baby arugula

Dredge cutlets in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs mixed with Parmesan cheese.
Fry cutlets in a hot pan with oil until golden brown on both sides and chicken is cooked through (about 3-4 minutes per side). Set aside to drain on paper towels.
Add sliced fennel and garlic to pan. Sauté until caramelized and tender. Add tomatoes and balsamic vinegar and continue to sauté until tomatoes burst and balsamic vinegar is reduced.
Serve chicken over a bed of arugula and spoon fennel & tomato sauce on top.

Sausage, Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna

I heart lasagna! Here's an easy tasty recipe

1 jar favourite tomato sauce (I used PC Tomato Basil)
350g ground hot Italian sausage, casings removed
5-6 sliced mushrooms
1 1/2 cups chopped spinach
1 tub ricotta cheese
1 egg
dash nutmeg
fresh basil
9 no-bake lasagna noodles
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Brown sausage in a pot until cooked through. Add mushrooms and saute until softened. Add tomato sauce and basil and simmer for 20 minutes. Add about 1/2 cup water (to help cook the noodles)
2. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, spinach, egg, nutmeg and basil.
3. Layer some sauce on the bottom of a lasagna pan and top with 3 noodles. Spread 1/3 of ricotta mixture across the noodles. Top with sauce and repeat with the rest of the noodles. Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top.
4. Bake at 350 F for about 45 minutes until noodles are tender and cheese is melted and bubbling.

Banana Muffins

Ever since I've developed an allergy to bananas I've missed them terribly. I couldn't resist buying them when I saw them in the supermarket. LUCKILY, I can eat cooked bananas, so I let them ripen on my kitchen counter waiting to turn them into a delicious baked good. It was torturous waiting for them to turn brown. Does anyone know of a way to ripen them more quickly? Anyway, I decided to bake banana muffins since I had company coming over the weekend and also wanted to bring in a breakfast treat for my dance team.
3 large ripe bananas
1/4 cup butter
3-4 tbsp plain yogurt or sour cream
1 egg
1 tps vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1. Mix bananas, butter, egg, and vanilla with a fork or hand mixer.
2. Add flour sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir until just combined.
3. Spoon batter into 12 greased or paper lined muffin cups
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes in 350 degree oven until risen and firm to the touch.
5. Cool and top with icing if desired.

My friend Nicole had made LOTS of extra cream cheese icing at our house so I decided to make use of it. I added 2 tbsp peanut butter to a cup of icing and iced the muffins. Was so delicious!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Boston Cream Pie

Sharl and I were looking for something to do on Sunday afternoon and we were also craving some kind of dessert, so we decided to bake this cake! It was a lot of fun and easier with two people helping with all of the steps and trying to amuse a fussy baby. It turned out to be REALLY delicious. I got this recipe from this old Good Housekeeping Book that I swear has EVERYTHING you could possibly want to cook and bake.

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups sugar
Pastry Cream (recipe to follow)
Chocolate Glaze (recipe to follow)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 2 8-inch round cake pans. LIne bottoms with parchment paper; grease and flour cake pans.
2. In large bowl, beat eggs until light and tripled in volume (about 5 mins with electric mixer on high)
3. Meanwhile in small pot, combine water and butter and heat to boiling. Remove from heat and add vanilla
4. With mixer at high speed, gradually add sugar to eggs. Beat until thinck and lemon colored and mixture forms ribbon when beaters are lifted (5-8 mins). In two additions fold in flour baking powder and salt until just blended.
5. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Bake until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean (20 mins). Run thin knife around layers to loosen from pans and invert to cool on wire racks. Remove parchment paper.
6. Meanwhile, prepare pastry cream.
7. When cake is cool, prepare chocolate glaze.
8. Place one cake layer, rounded side down on cake plate. Top with pastry cream. Top with second cake layer rounded side up. Pour glaze over top. Gently spread glaze evenly to edge allowing it to drip down side of cake. Let glaze set.

Pastry Cream
Heat 3/4 cup milk to boiling over medium heat.
In a large bowl, beat 2 large egg yolks with 6 tbsp milk and 1/3 cup sugar until smooth. Whisk in 2 Tbsp flour and 2 Tbsp cornstarch until combined. Gradually whisk hot milk into egg yolk mixture until blended.
Return mixture to saucepan; cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until mixture thickens and boils, about 4 mins. Reduce heat to low; cook, whisking constantly, 2 minutes.
Remove saucepan from heat; stir in 1 Tbsp butter and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Pour pastry cream into a pie dish. Press plastic wrap onto surface of pastry cream to keep skin from forming as it cools. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate 2 hours or up to overnight Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Chocolate Glaze
Heat 3 squares semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, 3 Tbsp butter, 1 Tbsp corn syrup and 1 Tbsp milk over low heat, until chocolate and butter melt and mixture is smooth. Makes about 1/2 cup.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Homemade pizza!

Took another attempt at making pizza. I made the dough by hand but this time, I used bread flour which made the dough more crustier. It ended up turning out really good except I wish I could make the dough thinner. Next time, I want to experiment with some different topping combinations and different cheeses.


  • A mix of low fat mozzarella and regular mozzarella (You need a little fat) :)

  • Hormel no preservatives turkey pepperoni

  • Sliced green pepper

  • Sliced mushrooms

  • Pizza sauce

  • Oregano

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Easy Jambalaya

I'm always in the mood for something spicy. Tonight I made some Cajun shrimp jambalaya. To cut time in half, I cooked the sauce in a skillet and the rice in a rice cooker.

1 onion diced
1 rib celery diced
1/2 red pepper diced
4 cloves garlic minced
2 cups cooked ham/kielbasa/chorizo
1 can diced tomatoes drained
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp Cajun spice mix
10-12 large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
2 cups rice cooked in 2 cups chicken stock
2 green onions sliced

Cook the rice in a rice cooker with chicken stock.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil on a skillet and sauté onions, celery, red pepper and garlic until softened. Add ham/kielbasa/chorizo and brown. Add spices, tomatoes and simmer until sauce thickens. Add shrimp and cook through. Once rice is cooked, pour jambalaya mixture in and mix through. Scatter green onions on top.

Moroccan Chicken with Apple Cranberry Couscous

Yesterday I just couldn't decide what to make for dinner. All of my go to dishes felt boring. I didn't want rice or pasta or potatoes...I wanted to try a new starch that I usually never eat, so I thought I'd give couscous a try. I've had it before but have never made it at home. It was so easy! I decided to look up the spices used in Moroccan food and try out my own rendition of Moroccan food at home. Here's what I came up with!

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground corriander
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp honey
salt and pepper

1 tsp butter
3 green onions sliced
1 macintosh apple diced
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp red onion diced
handful cranberries
2/3 cup couscous
1/3 cup boiling water
1/3 cup orange juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
salt & pepper

Combine cinnamon, cumin, corriander, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper in a bowl and coat chicken. Grill until cooked through (about 7-8 minutes per side)
Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan and sauté apples, green onions, cinnamon and curry powder until the spices are fragrant and apples have softened slightly.
Stir in red onion and cranberries and couscous.
Stir in orange juice and boiling water and cover pot for 5 minutes.
Once the couscous has absorbed the liquid, fluff it up with a fork and mix in olive oil, honey, salt and pepper.
Serve alongside grilled chicken and vegetable of choice.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Spicy Pasta and Bean Soup

This is one of my favourite soups. It's so flavourful and healthy. It's almost a cross between a soup and a stew since it's so hearty. I served this with olive bread.

1 tsp olive oil
1 onion diced
1 rib celery diced
1 carrot diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can white beans
2 cups chicken, beef or vegetable stock
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp fennel seed
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
3/4 cup dried macaroni
Shredded mozzarella and Parmesan

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil on medium heat and sauté onion, garlic, carrot and celery until soft.
Add tomatoes, beans, broth, herbs and spices and simmer on low for 1/2 hour or longer.
Just before serving, add dried macaroni and cook for 10 minutes or until pasta is al dente.
Top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

Oat and Apple Crumble-Topped Muffins

I meet with all of the stay-at-home moms and dads on my street every Thursday morning and they always seem to serve muffins. I decided to bake some since I hosted our get together last Thursday. Since apples are in season (49 cents a pound at Loblaws!), I decided to try out this recipe from Canadian Living.

1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cups quick rolled oats
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 apples peeled and diced

Crumble Topping
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp cinnamon


In bowl, stir sugar, flour, butter and cinnamon; set aside.

In large bowl, whisk all-purpose and whole wheat flours, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
In separate bowl, whisk milk, oil, egg, sugar and vanilla; pour over dry ingredients. Sprinkle with apple; stir just to blend.
Fill paper-lined or greased muffin cups three-quarters full. Sprinkle with topping. Bake in centre of 375°F (190°C) oven for 25 minutes or until tops are firm to the touch. Let cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes. Remove to rack to let cool completely.
(Make-ahead: Store in airtight container for up to 2 days or wrap individually in plastic wrap and freeze in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.)

Best Bolognese Rigatoni

When I was travelling in Barcelona, eating out at all the tapas bars and filling up on paella soon took its toll on me and I was craving some comfort food. We went to this restaurant where I ate the most delicious Bolognese sauce ever. I tried to duplicate the recipe at home from memory and it was pretty spot on. This is possibly the best Bolognese sauce I've ever had (even though it didn't photograph too nicely).

1 onion finely diced
1 carrot finely diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 lb lean ground beef
4 slices bacon chopped
1 bay leaf
1 small can tomato paste (about 4-5 tbsp)
1 can condensed beef broth
Red wine (pour two glasses then use the rest for cooking - about 2 cups)
Cooked Rigatoni pasta

In a saucepan, brown the ground beef until very brown and dry. Then add beef broth and keep on a medium simmer.
Meanwhile, in a skillet, cook bacon until crispy. Drain some fat off from the bacon and cook onions, carrot and garlic until soft.
Add red wine to skillet and allow liquid to reduce by half to concentrate the flavour. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pour contents of skillet into saucepan with ground beef and broth.
Add tomato paste and bay leaf and simmer on low for as long as you can wait. (I lasted 30 mins before getting really hungry)
Toss with rigatoni pasta and sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Oven fried chicken

Wow! This was one AWESOME oven "fried" chicken recipe and made fantastic leftovers.

This is Aida's recipe. You can get to the recipe by clicking on this post's title.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Prosciutto, Spinach & Artichoke Quiche

Quiche always reminds me of my Grandma. It was always the TOP dish I'd ask for when visiting her home in Montreal for the summer. She always made her quiche with ham, mushrooms and cheese, but I've since experimented with different ingredients.

9 inch pie shell (homemade or frozen)
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 small onion diced finely
2 cups chopped fresh baby spinach
4 large artichoke hearts chopped (canned in water)
3-4 slices prosciutto chopped
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. While pie shell is defrosting, beat 3 eggs with milk, dijon mustard cornstarch and cayenne pepper.
2. Layer onion, spinach, artichokes, prosciutto in pie shell and top with cheese.
3. Pour egg mixture slowly into the pie over filling ensuring that everything becomes moistened with the eggs.
4. Bake at 350 F for 35-40 minutes or until eggs are set and wait 5-10 minutes before slicing

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Penaci (Indonesian Spicy Beef)

I LOVE Indonesian food, and of all types of food available in Toronto, I don't know of any Indonesian restaurants in the city. Luckily for me, my mom's family is from Indonesia and I watched my Oma cook some of her signature dishes. Over the weekend, my mom and I got together to cook some Indonesian food and we made pecel, soto ayam and my favourite...penaci. Penaci is a ridiculously hot beef dish, but it's so irresistibly good.
I toned down the spiciness from my Oma's recipe so that my husband could enjoy it too.

I served this with pecel (vegetable and peanut sauce dish) and rice.

Roast of beef (about 3lbs or so)
1/2 red sweet pepper (optional...use sweet red pepper if you don't want this dish to be too spicy)
1 shallot
7 cloves garlic
1/4 onion
10 large chili peppers (I used 5 to tone down the spiciness, but use as many as you can tolerate)
4-5 kemiri (candle nuts) toasted in a dry skillet
1/2 lime
1/2 cup kecap manis (sweet thick soy sauce)

1. Place the roast of beef in a pot with water and boil until cooked.
2. In a food processor or blender, combine red pepper, shallot, garlic,onion, chilies, kemiri and lime juice and blend into a paste. Add a little water to loosen the paste if needed.
3. Heat up 1/4 cup oil in a wok or skillet and fry the paste until very fragrant.
4. Stir in kecap manis and continue to cook.
5. Cut beef into cubes and add to sauce. Cook until beef is tender.
Serve with rice.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Earthbox - Week nine

Be making Greek salads soon! (Tomato and pepper plant)

Cucumber plants - week nine

My little babies are growing up!!

Cucumber plant

My first year at gardening - week one

One train ride home, I was reading an article in Chicago magazine about a man who grows vegetables on his rooftop patio. Very inspired, we decided to take an attempt at gardening. The man used an Earthbox to grow the vegetables, which is a self- contained garden environment with a water reservoir so you don't over water. So, we bought a (below from lower left) cucumber, tomato, dill, basil, oregano and were given an Earthbox as a gift. In the Earthbox, we planted another tomato and pepper plant (on left).

Friday, July 31, 2009

Roasted Tomato, Onion and Penne Fritatta

I'm baaaaaaaack! It takes an extra effort to cook with a newborn on hand, but I'm getting back into the swing of things. I saw a recipe for fritatta on the Food Network's, Giada at Home, so I thought I'd give it a try with my own spin of course!

5 large eggs
3 tbsp milk
1 1/2 cups cooked and cooled penne pasta
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 onion cut into thin wedges
2 cloves garlic minced
handful fresh parsley chopped
1/2 tsp dried thyme
salt & pepper to taste

Toss grape tomatoes and onions in olive oil, salt and garlic and roast in the oven on a baking sheet for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees F. Allow to cool.
Boil and drain penne pasta and leave to cool.
Beat eggs with milk, herbs, salt pepper. When pasta has cooled, add to egg mixture along with cooled roasted tomato and onion mixture.
Heat a skillet on medium heat and pour in egg pasta mixture. After 10 minutes when the egg has almost set and bottom is golden brown, use a plate to flip and cook the other side for about 5 minutes.
Serve warm or cool with a salad.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Surprise! Margherita pizza.. kind of... :)

Steve was playing soccer and so I thought it would be a nice surprise to have some homemade pizza waiting for him. :) I thought this would be easy because I had some Pilsbury dough in the freezer. So the night before, I took it out and thawed it out in the fridge.

When Steve left, I was very excited to make the pizza. I put on the radio, took out the dough and looked at it. Expired.

I guess I'll just have to make my own.
Kind of ambitious for someone who has never made dough before. So I googled the ingredients and got the yeast, oil, water, salt, sugar and flour together.
But I only had about 1 cup of flour left.

Great. The main ingredient, I barely had.

I was almost ready to give up and just order some pizza until I decided to use cornmeal as a substitute for the flour.
Pretty bold at first but then I just became curious as to how this would turn out.

I made the dough, let it rest and then made a version of margherita pizza. I put sliced tomatoes, olive oil, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, parmesan and feta.
Turned out well, although I think the dough was a little bland but nevertheless still worked out.

I bought more flour and will try it again.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Turkey, feta, spinach and roasted red pepper wrap

We always have sandwiches on weekends but they are generally the same: toasted bun with an assortment of cold cuts, cheeses and vegetables. Not bad but getting a little boring. So I decided to change things up and make a wrap.

I used tortillas and laid 4 slices of turkey down the middle. I covered with spinach and sprinkled with feta. I sliced 2 long strips of roasted red pepper and put one on each side of the turkey. I tightly rolled the tortilla and sliced horizontal down the middle and voila!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Grilled Octopus

Hello World!

Sorry I have been M.I.A. Lots of great and amazing things have been happening but, unfortunately, I haven't had enough time to cook as much as I've wanted too. I will start to post about my other new hobby soon. This will be incorporated into many of these upcoming posts (I hope). :)

When we were in Greece three years ago, I tried octopus for the first time. It didn't look that appetizing as it was hanging to dry. In fact, I was mortified. But I didn't want to disappoint and tried it anyways.

Grilled octopus is now one of my favorites. I love it when it's grilled, with a little olive oil, salt and oregano. Octopus is crunchy on the outside and chewy inside. Trust me, it's very good.

So we tried making it at home.

We bought two baby octopus (already tenderized - be sure to ask your fish market). There are different ways to clean it, but we just kept the tentacles on. Then we boiled it in hot water for about 30 minutes to get it most tender. After, we threw the octopus on the grill, five minutes on each side and tossed it with olive oil, oregano, salt and some lemon. Paired with white wine, we were pretty much in Greece.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Delmonico potatoes

One of the best things about being back home is the home cooking of course! Nothing soothes the soul (or prepares your for childbirth) quite like mom's cooking. What could be more comforting than meatloaf and potatoes? My mom's Delmonico potatoes are comfort food at its finest. They're basically potatoes with mac & cheese sauce. YUM!!

5-6 potatoes peeled, cooked and diced
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
1 cup shredded old cheddar cheese
1/2 package saltine crackers crushed
salt and pepper

Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat; stir in flour. Cook for 3 minutes, but do not brown. Stir in milk and continue cooking over low heat, stirring constantly, until sauce begins to thicken. Season with salt and pepper.
Combine potatoes, white sauce, salt, and pepper. Pour into a shallow glass baking dish. Sprinkle shredded cheese over potatoes the top with saltine cracker crumbs. Cook at 425° for about 20 minutes, or until nicely browned.

Tomato and Cheese Sandwiches on Olive Bread

I had this sandwich at a baby shower and HAD to make it at home. It is so simple and satisfying!

Olive bread (I bought mine at Loblaws)
Tomato slices
Buffalo mozzarella cheese, sliced
Pizza sauce

Spread pizza sauce on one slice of bread and top with cheese.
Spread pesto sauce on the other slice of bread and top with tomato slices.
Place in the oven under the broiler until cheese is bubbly and slightly golden.
Assemble sandwich and enjoy.

At the shower, these sandwiches were not melted, but I just can't resist melt-y gooey cheese! This would probably be good grilled in a grill pan as well.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Baking once a week

I have been in a real baking kick lately. I think this was inspired by my recent participation in a bake sale at work. I told the lady to price my cookies significantly lower due to my skills. Shockingly, the cookies sold and I gained some confidence in this.

I love how baking makes the house smell so wonderful and really "homey". Also, there is nothing to get a man's attention like baking. :) Steve loves when I bake,
since this is so infrequent.

So in addition to my efforts to be conscious of what we eat, I have decided that I want to make/bake one snack per week.

Last week, I made banana nut muffins and today I made rice krispies squares. I'll feel better about snacks around the house, get extra love and the house will smell great!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Kahlua Cheesecake

I may be 9 months pregnant but it's still hard to keep me out of the kitchen!! For Sharl's and my mom's birthday, I decided to make a cheesecake. It was my first time baking a cheesecake, and I don't know why I was intimidated by it, it was rather easy! I got the recipe from my boss at work who brought this in for a potluck one time. So delicious! The next kitchen item I need to get for my new house is a springform pan!

1 1/2 cups Oreo crumbs
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup caramel sauce (I used a jar of the best stuff I could find)
3 pkgs Philadelphia cream cheese, at room temperature (DO use this brand)
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup Kahlua
6 squares melted Baker's semi-sweet chocolate

Mix Oreo crumbs with melted butter and press lightly into a 9-inch springform pan. Pour caramel sauce over top.
Beat cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time and mix until just blended. Stir in chocolate and Kahlua, and pour mixture into crust.
Bake for 45-50 minutes at 350 F or until the cake is set and slightly wobbly in the centre. Cool completely and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. Garnish with caramel sauce and whipped cream if you like.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Five ingredients! Tilapia with Cherry Tomatoes and Anchovie Sauce

I would have taken pictures of this dish but it looks much better in person. You'll have to try the recipe and post your pics. :)

This is one of Steve's favourite dishes, is so easy to make and has only 5 ingredients!

You'll need:
  • Tilapia fillets
  • Anchovies in the oil
  • 1 full packet of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 to 2 cloves of chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil

In a pan over very low heat, pour entire content of anchovies and oil. Let anchovies melt. This should take about 12 minutes or so. If you cook the anchovies at a high heat, it will splatter everywhere. Big mess! Stay low!

Throw in garlic, all cherry tomatoes and olive oil. You can toss these ingredients in while the anchovies are cooking.

Let entire sauce cook for a total of 20 minutes or so.

Put tilapia fillets in sauce and cook for about 10 minutes or until fully cooked through.

Serve cherry tomatoes on top of tilapia fillets. Drizzle with leftover sauce.

Steve loves having this dish with fresh bread to sop up the sauce.

So technically, this dish has six ingredients. :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day

2 Ways to celebrate in Toronto:

1. Free coffee at Starbucks if you bring in a travel mug.

2. Beginning at 1pm they are giving away FREE Brita pitchers at Yonge-Dundas Square. Quantities are limited to the first 3600 people.

They were also handing out pine tree seedlings to pedestrians from Honda.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Happy Greek Easter!

(From top right, dolmades, pork tenderloin, potatoes, spanokopita, lamb and orzo salad)

This Greek Easter, Steve and I worked really hard. We fasted every Wednesday and Friday, no meat or dairy. This proved to be quite the culinary challenge because if you make leftovers with meat on Tuesday, you can't eat it the next day and same deal with Thursday. So you really have to make more proportionate meals on those days as well.

One of the hardest things I found was fasting from dairy. Those ingredients seem to be in everything I eat! Yoghurt, Cheez-it, etc. Towards the end of Lent, I was craving meat like crazy. I wanted a Big Mac so bad. :)

So we had a big feast to celebrate Easter and boy, did I go to town. We went to my sister and brother in laws house. I could smell the lamb as we approached their street. My father and brother in law had prepared the lamb the day before with garlic and cheese. In addition, my mother in law made her wonderful spankopitas (spinach pies) and potatoes. She also made dolmades, which is meat wrapped in grape leaves covered with a creamy egg sauce. We also had salad and made my orzo salad. Dan, my brother in law, grilled sausages and the lamb. Connie, my sister in law made this mouthwatering pork with a meaty gravy. I can't remember even talking during dinner. For dessert, Connie made a chocolate cake with a mocha frosting. This cake was so moist. My mother in law also brought Galaktoboureko, which is a Greek pastry with layers of phyllo and custard. She also made Koulouria, which are Greek butter cookies.