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.