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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Chocolate Raspberry Banana Bread Pudding

I'm so sorry. I've done it again. I've made another bread pudding. I really can't help myself. "Hi, my name is Janet and I make Bread Pudding". I will soon have to start a new category on my sidebar just for bread puddings, or maybe even another blog. It's as though I see some food item (it can be anything at all) and I immediately start to plot how I could turn it into bread pudding.

Well this time I took a whole bunch of mashed bananas and frozen raspberries out of the freezer on Saturday morning to thaw with plans of making several batches of raspberry banana muffins. But then I thought, why double the muffin recipe when I could make two different things and DOUBLE my opportunities to blog about them! So I made one batch of muffins and the remaining bananas and raspberries sat there on my counter for the rest of the day, taunting me.

I knew I wanted to add chocolate, but I didn't know what else. I thought maybe a banana chocolate raspberry cheesecake would be good, but I didn't have any cream cheese. I tried to get Mario to run to the store for me, but he basically just gave me "the look". He was, after all, too busy doing he-mannish type stuff like cutting the grass, changing outdoor light bulbs and doing laundry (yup you read that right, in our house that's HIS job!) to worry about my banana-raspberry problem. And I was just too lazy to go myself. So I was back at square one.

In the end, originality failed me, and I made a bread pudding. It was pretty darned good though, and I got no complaints on my lack of inspiration from Mario and the kids, who gobbled it all down.

Chocolate Raspberry Banana Bread Pudding

2 cups stale bread, torn into small pieces
2 oz semi sweet chocolate chips

1 cup raspberries (frozen or fresh)
1 ripe banana, mashed
2 cups milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

1. Place half of the torn bread in a greased casserole dish, spread the raspberries and mashed bananas on top. Then layer the remaining torn bread on top of that.

2. Heat milk in a small saucepan. Add chocolate chips and stir until melted. Let cool slightly. Mix in eggs, vanilla and salt.

3. Pour milk and egg mixture over the bread and let sit for a few minutes.

4. Bake 350F for about 50 minutes until set. Let sit for about 15 minutes before serving. Top with chocolate sauce.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Seven Layer Mexican Dip

I thought I'd post one of my favorite old recipes, which many of my friends refer to as "THE DIP" (you have to say it with a DEEP voice). It is a really easy recipe to make, although I do admit that I never corrected anyone when they assumed it was a lot of hard work.

I haven't made THE DIP in a while, I use to bring it to parties back when I was in University. Actually, I think it was the reason I had friends. The problem was I got locked into it... if I ever showed up with something different, I would never hear the end of it, "where's THE DIP??"

This past weekend I decided it was time to resurrect THE DIP. Every Thursday night, I play on an Ultimate Frisbee team (GO Scorgasms GO!!) and on Sunday we held a practice followed by a Barbeque. I brought THE DIP to help feed my teammates. One of the guys on the team, also made a special request for some of my Soft Pesto Breadsticks, but he refused to share them with anyone.

I'm sorry I didn't get any good pictures of the inside of THE DIP, it felt a little weird to haul out my camera and start taking picture while everyone was digging in. It is very pretty on the inside with the layers of refried beans, guacamole and sour cream.

Seven Layer Mexican Dip

1 can refried beans
2 cups sour cream
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cumin
dash hot sauce
2 ripe avocados
1 tbsp lime juice
1/3 cup onions, finely diced
1/4 tsp hot pepper flakes
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1/3 cup jalapeno peppers, chopped

1. Mix the refried beans with 1/4 cup of sour cream, salt, cumin, and a dash of hot pepper sauce. Spread on the bottom of a shallow dish.

2. Mix the avocados, lime juice, 1/4 cup sour cream, onion and pepper flakes. Spread on top of the refried beans. (note: on the odd occasion when I was unable to find ripe avocados, I would resort to store bought guacamole for this layer, and my drunk friends never noticed...)

3. Spread the remaining sour cream on top of the guacamole.

4. Place the remaining ingredients on top in the following order: cheddar cheese, tomatoes, green onion, and jalapeno peppers. Serve with Tortilla chips.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Onion and Wild Garlic Quiche with Parmesan in a Couscous Crust

Before I proceed with the description of this recipe, let me apologize for the uninspiring recipe name. Whenever I come up with my own creations, I seem to hit a road block when it comes to naming them. I usually end up with something that looks more like an ingredient list. In fact, I am lucky I didn't settle on "Quiche in a Couscous Crust with 2 cups Onion, 25 bulbs Wild Garlic, 3/4 cups milk, 3 eggs, 1/2 cup Parmesan..."

I came up with the idea for this recipe because I was racking my brain trying to come up with a way to use up the 2 cups of leftover couscous that I had in the fridge. Efficient use of leftovers is NOT one of my strong points. That is why the food event "Leftover Tuesdays" hosted by Pam at Project Foodie, is going to be a good thing for me. If you ever see a tupperware container in my fridge, immediately SHUT the door and slowly BACK AWAY... then run for your life!

I am sure that people are wondering what happens to all of the food that this blog generates, especially since every post seems to end with "my kids wouldn't eat this". Unfortunately I just don't like eating leftovers re-heated in the microwave. Once I've tried a new meal, I want to move on to a new and exciting recipe. But if you can take your leftovers and turn them into an entirely new dish? Now you're talking!

Only, I had half this Quiche leftover... my kids wouldn't eat it. sigh.

Onion and Wild Garlic Quiche with Parmesan in a Couscous Crust

2 cups leftover Couscous
1 tbsp butter
2 cups thinly sliced onion
25 bulbs wild garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup Mozzarella
1/2 cup Parmesan
4 slices tomato
salt and pepper

1. Mix 1 tbsp butter with leftover Couscous (note: the couscous I used was originally cooked in vegetable broth with white wine and lemon juice with chives).

2. Dump the couscous into an 8" pie plate. Press it down and up the sides of the dish.

3. Saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil (note: if you are substituting regular garlic, DO NOT use 25 cloves. Wild Garlic is much milder. I would suggest maybe 2 cloves, and I would mince them).

4. Spoon onions and garlic into the couscous crust.

5. Mix together the milk, eggs, Dijon, 1/4 of the Parsmesan, and salt and pepper. Pour over the pie.

6. Top with tomato slices, then remaining Parmesan, Mozzarella and cilantro. Bake at 350F for about 45 minutes, or until set and the edges have started to brown. Serve small wedges as a side dish, or with a salad for lunch.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Seven Year Old Pizza

No, you didn't read the title of this post wrong, and No, I'm not trying to poison anyone. I don't know if anyone is actually going to want to make this recipe, it is the creation of my seven year old daughter, Claire. But I don't want to sell her short, so let me tell you about it first.

For Mother's Day, Claire gave me a coupon which entitled me to "two meals prepared by Claire". She's been harrassing me about it daily, so I decided I had better redeem it. First I re-negotiated the terms of the coupon, instead of two meals, I wanted one meal which included "clean up". Claire readily agreed.

I decided to buy some specific ingredients for her to work with, lest we end up eating macaroni and cheese topped with chocolate chips and peanut butter or something. So I bought, and set out on the counter, some: whole wheat flat bread, whole wheat penne, bacon (already cooked), cooked chicken breast meat, cheddar cheese, mozarella cheese, can of tomato sauce, olive oil, onion, garlic, broccoli, and carrots. Plus some fresh cilantro and fresh oregano (which she refused to use).

My aim was to steer her towards making pasta OR pizza, but I didn't suggest either. I told her to use the ingredients however she wanted, but that she didn't have to use ALL of them.... it was a little like "Iron Chef Kindergarden" (which I might add, would be great idea for a cooking show, they could call it "Kids Cook the Darndest Things").

I sat down in the adjacent family room to try to keep my VERY bossy nose out of things, while at the same time keeping a watchful eye, ready to leap into action if anything went up in flames.

Well, let me say this....boy am I glad that I had the foresight to request the "clean-up". Claire turned my kitchen upsidedown. But, she did pretty good with dinner and required very little help with the actually cooking. It took her forever to make the pizza as she was so precise, placing each piece of food "just so" on the crust. I was very proud (sniff, sniff) I think I may have spawned a new generation of food bloggers!

Seven Year Old Pizza

1 flatbread
2 carrots, chopped small
1/2 cup broccoli, chopped
1/2 cup tomato sauce
6 sliced bacon, chopped
1 cooked chicken breast, sliced
1 cup cheddar
1/2 cup mozzarella
parmesan cheese.

1. Spread tomato sauce on flatbread.

2. Sauté carrots and broccoli, add to pizza along with bacon, and chicken. Top with cheeses.

3. Bake at 400F for about 15-20 minutes, until cheese starts to brown.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Papaya Bread

It was when we were on our family vacation in Belize in March that I made the discovery that I love Papayas. The Papayas in Belize were so much better than the ones you would normally get here in Canada. They were big and juicy and delicious.

A few weeks after we got home, I was wandering through the grocery looking for ways to waste money (as I am wont to do) when I saw a lovely huge Papaya with a sticker "product of Belize". They were still very green but I adopted three of them and took them home to sit on my kitchen counter. I lovingly turned them (and squeezed them and smelled them) every day for a week until finally, I deemed them ripe enough to eat. They were good. I ate them morning noon and night. I ran out, I went back to the store, I bought more.... and so on.

At some point during this time, I started to notice some stomach discomfort. It would often happen at the gym when I was running on the treadmill.... I thought I might be allergic to the gym (was hoping). But no, sadly, I eventually made a connection with the Papaya, which I would eat in large quantities for dessert, before I went to the gym.

Anyway, all this to provide a preamble to my Papaya Bread recipe because I needed a way to deal with the two Papayas I still had, which I was now afraid to eat. I did take a chance and try a small bit of the bread. It was delicious and moist, and it didn't give me cramps! My kids and Mario LOVED this recipe, but that's too bad for them, because I'm not buying anymore Papayas.

Papaya Bread (Cramp Free)
adapted from Astray Recipes

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup mashed ripe Papaya
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground ginger

1. Cream sugar with butter until light.

2. Add eggs and beat until fluffy.

3. Mix in Papaya, nuts and raisins.

4. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice and ginger. Add this to the butter mixture.

5. Pour batter into greased loaf pan. Bake at 325F for 1 hour 10 minutes.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Fig Newtons

Fig Newtons are one of my all time favorite cookies. At some point I decided that I wanted to try to make my own. I knew there was no way I'd get them as low in calories as the store bought ones (only 40 per cookie), so I didn't even bother calculating the calories in these (there is really no need to alarm myself).

I had a little trouble finding a recipe that I liked, so I adapted one that I found on Recipe Goldmine.

Unfortunately, I didn't have nearly enough fig filling for the amount of pastry I made. I didn't want to waste all that good pastry, and I was out of figs, so I made some of the peanut butter filling from Peabody's recipe for Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Cupcakes and stuffed the leftover pastry with that (and chocolate chips of course).

Then I didn't have enough pastry and I had half of the peanut butter filling left. I realized that this could turn into a very ugly never ending cycle of filling...pastry...filling...pastry, so I had to put an end to it by just eating the rest of peanut butter filling with a spoon.

The Fig Newtons were really good, and I figured that after eating about a cup of peanut butter filling, it really didn't matter anymore how many calories they had. So I ate six of them.

I've adjusted the amounts in the recipe, so hopefully this won't happen to you. But, if you do find that you have leftover pastry, I highly recommend the peanut butter filling with chocolate chips! On second thought, forget the pastry and the Fig Newtons, and just have a big bowl of peanut butter filling.

Fig Newtons


2 cups dried figs, very finely diced
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup sugar

3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

1. Make sure the figs are very finely chopped so you will be able to spread the filling evenly on the pastry. Simmer the figs in the 1/2 cup sugar and water for 10 minutes. Let cool.

2. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder together.

3. Cream butter and 3/4 cup of sugar. Mix in honey. Add egg and beat until light.

4. Add dry ingredients and milk to creamed mixture. Add vanilla and blend well. Roll into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.

5. Divide dough into quarters and roll out into a rectangle that is approximately 11" long by 5" wide. Use a ruler and a knife to trim the pastry into a "neater" rectangle that is 10" x 4".

6. Spread with about 1/4 of the fig mixture. Fold sides of pastry over the filling and cut the the pastry into five 2" cookies.

7. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and repeat with the next 1/4 of the dough.

8. Bake at 400F for about 15 or until tops are golden brown.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Pumpernickel Bread Dip

About 10 years ago, a friend of mine brought a pumpernickel bread dip to a party. I loved her dip so much, I asked her for the recipe. She seemed to forget about it, so I reminded her a couple of times. Then she said that she couldn't find it - must have lost it. Right. I figured she was just one of "those" people who don't like to share recipes. She wanted to hoard all the good recipes so the rest of us poor recipe-less souls, would ooh and aah over her amazing cooking and lament the fact that we will NEVER be as good as her. Oh? Do I sound bitter? Yes, but it was SUCH a good pumpernickel dip! I have devoted most of the last 10 years of my life to trying to replicate her recipe so that I can post it all over the internet. Ha! That's what you get for messing with me! I hope the rest of you are shaking in your boots!

Pumpernickel Bread Dip

1 cup mayo
2 cups sour cream
1 envelope vegetable soup mix
1 can water chestnuts, chopped
1 1/2 packages of frozen spinach (drained and chopped)
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped red peppers
2 loaves pumpernickel bread

1. Mix mayo, sour cream, and soup mix.

2. Stir in water chestnuts, onions and red peppers.

3. Squeeze extra water out of spinach (note: since the recipe calls for 1 1/2 packages of frozen spinach, cut through the second package while still frozen with a serrated knife, so you can put it back in the freezer to save for something else). Stir spinach into mixture.

4. Cut the top off one loaf of bread, and slice down around the edge (almost to the bottom) scoop out the middle to form a big bowl. Place the dip in the bowl and cut the remaining bread into cubes for dipping.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Crepes Stuffed with Scrambled Eggs and Bacon

I think you can pretty much divide most people into two camps. Crepe people and pancake people. I grew up on pancakes and never had crepes until I was dating Mario, whose Mom always makes them. But to be honest, I still prefer a nice fluffy pancake that soaks up the maple syrup like a sponge.

One thing I really do adore though, is stuffed crepes. I stuffed these ones with scrambled eggs, bacon, and a little bit of cheese sauce. My trick is to whip half of the egg whites to create a lot more volume in the eggs, so the crepes aren't too skinny.

I will include my regular crepe recipe here, but it makes about 12-14 crepes (depending on how big you make them). You will only need one crepe per person for these scrambled egg crepes, but there are so many uses for leftovers. You can reheat the crepes for breakfast the following morning. You can stuff them with something for dinner. You can make my Crepe Appetizer. Or you can make soup, like the one that Nicky at delicious:days made (and which is high on my growing list of things to try).

Crepes Stuffed with Scrambled Eggs and Bacon
Serves 4

1 cup flour
1 1/2 cup milk
3 eggs
3 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp salt

8 eggs
salt and pepper
4 slices bacon

Cheese Sauce:
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup grated cheddar
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour

1. Make Crepes: mix flour and salt. Add milk, eggs and butter. Beat with a hand mixer for 2 minutes until very smooth. Let batter rest 30 minutes before making crepes.

2. Heat non-stick skillet and brush with a small amount of oil. Remove pan from heat, pour batter in middle all at once and twirl the pan with your wrist. Once spread, return pan to heat. Cook on the first side until the edges start to get golden. Flip and cook another minute on the second side. Make all the crepes, stacking on a warm plate (cover with foil to keep warm).

3. While you are making the crepes, cook the bacon. Use your usual method or place strips on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes at 350F (longer for crispy bacon).

4. Make Cheese Sauce: In a small saucepan melt 1 tbsp of butter and stir in 1 tbsp flour. Stir in milk and whisk over med-high heat until thickened. Stir in grated cheese until melted. Keep warm.

5. Make Scrambled Eggs: To increase the volume of the scrambled eggs separate 4 of the eggs and whip the 4 egg whites until stiff peaks form.

6. Beat the 4 egg yolks together with the remaining 4 whole eggs and then fold in the egg whites. Scramble over medium-low heat, do not over stir just gently move the eggs around the pan as they begin to set. Cook until set, but still moist.

7. Assemble the crepes: On each plate, lay out a warm crepe, place a strip of bacon down the center. Spoon 1/4 of scrambled eggs over bacon, and top with a small spoonful of cheese sauce. Roll crepe. Drizzle a small amount of cheese sauce on the top of the crepe.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


The first time I had this, I was with a friend at a little Greek Restaurant in downtown Vancouver. I ordered Saganaki at his suggestion, but I thought to myself, "strange to be ordering Japanese food at a Greek restaurant". But, no - it turns out Saganaki is a deliciously salty Greek appetizer make with fried or broiled cheese (usually Kasseri or Halloumi). I loved it, and now I will always order it for an appetizer if I'm in a Greek restaurant.

Last week, when I was poking around the grocery store looking for things to buy that I didn't need, I saw they had Halloumi cheese. My heart started to beat a little faster... and no, I don't need anyone to tell me how pathetic that is...

The package said that the cheese could be fried or grilled. Since it is usually served fried in restaurants, I decided to try it that way the first time. It worked out well. Mario has never had it before and he thought it was great! Claire and Marco wouldn't eat it because of the brandy... that's OK, more for us! This would be a perfect appetizer for dinner guests because it was so easy, it requires very little preparation and it is a nice small portion that won't fill everyone up before the main event.


4 slices Halloumi cheese (about 1/2" thick)
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 oz brandy (warmed)

1. Coat cheese slices with cornstarch and freeze for about 30 minutes before frying.

2. Melt butter over med-high heat and add cheese. Fry until gold brown on the first side (3-4 minutes).

3. Flip the cheese slices and add the lemon juice to the frying pan.

4. When the second side is browned (1-2 minutes), light the brandy and pour over the cheese. (Note: if you have a gas stove be REALLY careful not to spill brandy right on the burner flame - trust me!)

5. Put a piece of cheese on each plate and pour a little of the liquid from the pan over each. Serve with lemon wedges and fresh crusty bread, or pita.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Salmon and Cream Cheese Crepe Appetizers

This is a fantastic little appetizer recipe that I got from my Mother-in-Law. It's a little finicky to make, but it is well worth the effort. The very worst part of this recipe is that I usually make it to bring somewhere, like a party, and then I only get to eat one. I've been telling myself for years that one of these days, I'm going to make this for no special occasion and then just sit down all by myself and eat my fill. This time I came close, I made this on the weekend because we had crepes for breakfast and I had leftovers. So, we had it for lunch and I got to eat THREE with some salad on the side.

A couple of little notes: (1) if you are a stickler for details and you count the layers of crepes in my photos, you will notice 8, that is because I was only making one stack and I had some extra crepes and fillings; (2) don't buy olives with pits, they are really hard to stab, even with the fancy little plastic toothpicks I splurged on just for the picture; (3) you can also make this with canned tuna instead of salmon; and (4) you can make the crepes up to a day ahead - wrap them in plastic wrap and put them in the fridge.

I won't go on too long about the recipe, because I took lots of pictures.....

Salmon and Cream Cheese Crepe Appetizers

1 cup flour
3 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups milk
3 tbsp butter melted and cooled

Salmon Layer:
1 can salmon
1/4 cup mayo
1 tbsp chopped chives
pepper to taste

Cream Cheese Layer:
6 oz cream cheese (3/4 of an 8oz package - did I need to say that?)
2 tbsp mayo
4 slices bacon crumbled

1. Make Crepes: mix flour and salt. Add milk, eggs and butter. Beat with a hand mixer for 2 minutes until very smooth. Let batter rest 30 minutes before making crepes.

2. You need to get 14 crepes out of this (well actually 15 because the first is ALWAYS crappy). So don't make them too big - aim for about 7". (a little less than 1/4 cup of batter per crepe).

3. Heat non-stick skillet and brush with a small amount of oil. Remove pan from heat, pour batter in middle all at once and twirl the pan with your wrist. Once spread, return pan to heat (you will get good at this with practice). Cook on the first side until the edges start to get golden. Flip and cook another minute on the second side. Make all the crepes, stacking them as you go. I don't usually need to oil the pan again, after the first crepe.

4. Once the crepes have cooled, trim them all to the same size. Make them about 6". The lid from a margarine container works perfectly, but you could also use a side plate.

5. After you are done trimming the crepes, make sure nobody else is around, and scarf down all the tasty little scraps. (You don't have to share these, you did all the hard work, so you deserve them!)

6. Make the salmon layer: In a small bowl, mash salmon with 1/4 cup mayo, chives and pepper. Make sure the salmon mixture has no lumps, it needs to be smooth and spreadable.

7. Make cream cheese layer: Make sure the cream cheese is room temperature. In a small bowl, mix with bacon and 2 tbsp mayo. Stir until smooth.

8. On a cutting board, lay out two crepes (the bottom layer of each of the two stacks). Spread 1/6 of the salmon on each. Place another crepe on top of each stack, spread 1/6 of the cream cheese. Continue, until you have two stacks of 7 crepes with alternating layers of salmon and cream cheese. I always save the two most attractive looking crepes for the top layers.

9. Wrap each stack in plastic wrap and chill at least an hour. Before serving, slice each stack into 12 wedges and garnish with olives or slices of pickle.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Soft Pesto Breadsticks

This is a great recipe if you want to have some nice bread alongside your dinner, but you don't have a loaf handy and you don't have time to make a yeast bread. These breadsticks are a real treat and take about 20 minutes from start to finish. I like to paint some store bought Pesto sauce on mine and then sprinkle them with a little Parmesan cheese. You could also sprinkle sesame seeds, cheddar cheese, or whatever else floats your boat. The best part is that these little babies only have about 75 calories each (not including the topping). This time I did half with pesto and half just with Parmesan because Claire and Marco won't eat the ones with the "green stuff".

Soft Pesto Breadsticks

1 1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup skim milk
2 tbsp butter, melted
your choice of topping (pesto, Parmesan, cheddar, sesame seeds etc).

1. Mix flour, baking powder and salt.

2. Stir in skim milk and mix until dough forms a ball.

3. Roll or pat dough out into a 10" by 6" rectangle and cut it into 12 strips.

4. Paint each stick with butter and place on cookie sheet. Paint on or sprinkle with your choice of topping.

5. Bake at 450F for 14 minutes.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Chicken Chimichangas

A while back I promised my friend Se7en, who designed this blog for me, some more Mexican recipes. We love these Chimichangas. I got this recipe from a friend who told me that they tasted exactly like the Chimichanga's at Chi Chi's Restaurant. Well, I don't think we've ever had a Chi Chi's in Canada, so I have no idea whether that claim is true. But, I do know that these taste really good. OK.... I just looked up Chi Chi's on Wikipedia and I can see that they went out of business in 2003 following a Hepatitis A outbreak that started at one of their locations.... so perhaps I shouldn't push the Chi Chi's angle too much.**

I have made these Chimichangas two ways - sometimes, when I am feeling naughty, I fry them in a little olive oil (I was feeling naughty the night we had these ones for dinner). Most of the time, I spray them lightly with cooking spray and bake them at 400F for about 20 minutes.

**Consuming raw or undercooked meat and/or fish may increase your risk of food borne illness (just covering ALL my bases).

Chicken Chimichangas

1 small onion, chopped
1 tbsp oil
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 1/2 cup chopped cooked chicken
8-10 flour tortillas
1 cup refried beans
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups salsa
1/2 tsp cumin
1 pinch salt

1. Saute onion and garlic in oil.

2. Stir in salsa, spices, chicken and salt. Cook until heated through.

3. Spread about 2 tbsp of refried beans on each tortilla then add about 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture. Fold like a burrito and secure with a toothpick or metal skewer.

4. Spray all sides with cooking spray and bake at 400F for 20 minutes (until golden brown) OR fry in a small amount of olive oil until brown on both sides.

5. Serve with sour cream and guacamole.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Mixed Greens with Pear, Walnut and Maple Vinaigrette

Just a boring old salad recipe today. This is one of our favorite salads though. Easy enough to make for an everyday meal and impressive enough to serve for guests. I found this recipe about a year ago in an LCBO Food and Drink Magazine (a quarterly magazine that you can pick up free at the Liquor Store here in Ontario), it is usually packed with amazing recipes and wine pairing suggestions. Most of the recipes are also available on-line.

We particularly love the maple vinaigrette and I make it often, even when I don't have the pears and walnuts to make the original salad recipe. I have also, on occasion, added little chunks of Brie with great results. The red onion wasn't in the original recipe either, but I think it makes the salad better.

I know the recipe calls for "12 cups" of salad greens, but please don't measure your lettuce - how do you measure lettuce anyway? Just fill a big salad bowl with lettuce and then add the other ingredients and toss with dressing in increments until you think there's enough. Sorry I don't have any funny stories to go along with this post, its hard to screw up a salad.... even for me.

Mixed Greens with Pear, Walnut and Maple Vinaigrette

12 cups mixed salad greens
1 firm ripe pear
1/2 cup toasted walnut
1/4 cup red onion, sliced into thin rings
3 tbsp cider vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt

1. Wash pear (don't peel) and cut into quarters lengthwise. Slice each quarter crosswise into thin slices.

2. Mix dressing: whisk together the vinegar, olive oil and syrup (I like to use a milk frother to mix my salad dressings).

3. Put the greens, onion, pear, and toasted walnuts in a large bowl and toss with dressing, until everything is lightly coated.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Toasted Waffle Pudding

I love bread puddings, it is one of my favorite dishes, and you can make it with almost anything.... I've made sweet bread puddings and savoury bread puddings. In the past, I've tried bread puddings with regular bread (crumbs, whole slices or cubes), bread crusts, raisin bread, banana bread, croissants, doughnuts.... and now I can add "Frozen Waffles" to that list. I'm not sure what made me think of this, but it was pretty tasty. I did do a google search for Waffle Bread Pudding, and I can see that I'm not the only one whose ever thought of this - there is a recipe on the Kellogg's website, although I didn't follow that one because bread pudding is one of those things I just don't need a recipe for.

Toasted Waffle Pudding

8 plain Frozen Waffles, toasted and cut in half
1/4 cup chocolate chips
3 cups milk
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

1. Arrange waffles "artfully" in a 9" x 9" greased baking dish. Sprinkle with chocolate chips.

2. Mix milk, egg, syrup, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Pour over waffles and let soak for about 15 minutes.

3. Bake at 350F for about an hour, until golden brown on top and the pudding is set.

4. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. (It's best if you let it sit for 10-15 minutes before serving to firm up, and if anything, its even better leftover).

Thursday, May 17, 2007


I received a comment on one of my posts yesterday, somebody ACTUALLY made the Filet Mignon recipe that I posted. This makes me nervous. I don't know why, it's as though I'm afraid that for some reason the recipe won't turn out right - the way it did in the picture - and I will be exposed as the food blogging fraudster that I really am.

So that is why, I am adding a small disclaimer to this post. This recipe for Haupia (a Hawaiian Coconut dessert) is not really that good. Yet, it is WHITE, which was the main requirement for Sugar High Friday #31. I don't remember reading anything in the post on Tara's site, Seven Spoons, about this recipe having to taste good. I don't want to insult Haupia loving foodies all around the world, and I'm sure there are many, but this was a little like eating that stuff you used when you were a kid to stick the strips of newspaper onto the balloon...."paper mache with coconut"... I'm certain I must have done something wrong.

One of the problems might have been that I've never eaten, or even seen Haupia before, so I had no idea how it was supposed to be served. The recipe said to pour the mixture into a shallow baking dish to set in the fridge, and then cut it into squares. From this I assumed that you were intended to pick those squares up and eat them.... stapling Jello to the wall might have been easier. After I figured out that the "square configuration" wasn't going to work, I snapped a few pictures and tried transfering the squares to an ice cream dish.... what I ended up with was some lumpy looking blobs of gelatenous white stuff (I won't take that analogy any further).

Anyway, I'm going to chalk this one up to experimentation and post the recipe anyway, but I am truly not expecting to win any accolades for my first submission to Sugar High Friday. If anyone has ever made Haupia with a higher degree of success, I'd love to hear from you.


3 cups coconut milk
5 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
4 1/2 tbsp sugar
pinch salt

1. Mix coconut milk, sugar, cornstarch and salt. Bring to a boil and stir until thickened.

2. Pout into a shallow dish and chill until set.

3. Cut into squares (but whatever you do, don't try to pick up said squares).

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Caesar Potato Salad

I wanted to make a nice potato salad on the weekend to go alongside the BBQed steak I served when my Mom and Dad came to dinner. I do have a regular potato salad recipe that uses a can of cream of celery soup, but I was also trying to think up a recipe that I could submit to my next blog event. Hay Hay its Donna Day 12 is being hosted by Katie B over at Other People's Food and the theme this month is "Caesar Salad". So I decided to combine my love of potato salad with my love of Caesar salad.

This actually turned out quite nicely (which still sometimes surprises me, when I don't follow a recipe and try to create a dish all on my own). It really did taste like Caesar Salad, but with potatoes. I thought it might also be nice to add some cooked sliced chicken breast and serve this on a bed of Romaine lettuce, as a meal in itself.

I started off by mixing the sauce, and I ended up making about twice as much as I needed for the amount of potatoes that I made. I will post the full amounts, so I don't screw anything up in the conversion, but unless you are having a BIG potato salad party, you might consider cutting this in half. Then again, leftover potato salad is not a bad thing. One more note: I used light miracle whip in the dressing, but if I was actually making this for guests (Mom and Dad don't count as guests), then I might have used "real" mayo, and I think it would have been even better! I usually make a comment about whether or not my kids liked the recipe, but I honestly can't remember, I guess I was too busy stuffing my pie-hole with potato salad and steak to pay attention to them.

Caesar Potato Salad

1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp chives, chopped
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
6 slices Bacon, crumbled (about 1/3 cup)
pinch cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
10 medium red potatoes, washed and not peeled

1. Boil potatoes in a pot of salted water about 20 minutes, or until a metal skewer can be inserted easily into the largest potato. Drain and let cool.

2. Mix mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, chives, mustard, garlic, Parmesan and bacon. Season with pepper.

3. Chop potatoes into large rough chunks and mix with sauce until all are coated. Sprinkle top lightly with Cayenne pepper.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Filet Mignon with Roquefort Butter

Here is a very tasty and extremely easy steak recipe for the BBQ. I served this for dinner on the weekend when my husband, Mario, was out of town at a bachelor party (luckily for Mario, this is a food blog and not a personal journal, or else there would be a couple of paragraphs devoted to THAT subject... who plans a bachelor party on Mothers Day??....oh yeah.... bachelors).

Anyway, since he was away, I had my parents over for a nice Mother's Day dinner. The menu was Filet Mignon with Roquefort Butter, Caesar Potato Salad, and Mixed Greens with Pears and Walnuts in a Maple Vinaigrette. I served this with a nice warm Green Olive Fougasse (uh that's bread) and for dessert a Waffle Bread Pudding with vanilla ice cream. Sorry to say, you aren't getting all those recipes and pictures today, all that hard work has to translate into at least a few days worth of posts. So keep checking back....

Today I'm posting the steak, as it was the main attraction. This is a simple recipe because you make the Roquefort butter in advance and chill it, then slice it and put a piece on each steak when you are serving things up. I had about 1/2 the Roquefort butter leftover, so I put in the freezer for the next time we have steak. You will think this is terribly fattening (and it is not the most calorie conscious recipe I've ever posted) but considering that this "butter" makes enough for at least 8 steaks and I used 25% less fat butter, its not that bad. OK, that was me trying to justify having a second helping, I'm good at that.... "Poutine? - oh yes that's good for you - cheese is healthy!"

I did put a little of the Roquefort butter on the kids steaks and needless to say, this recipe is NOT that popular with the 4-7 age group. Note to self: next time buy a slightly cheaper cut of meat for the kids, it is frustrating to see them waste expensive food.

Filet Mignon with Roquefort Butter
Adapted from Canadian Living, Get Grilling, Summer 2007

4 beef tenderloin steaks
1/2 cup roquefort cheese, crumbled (you can substitute another blue veined cheese)
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 tbsp chives, chopped
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon rind
salt and pepper

1. Mash together the cheese and butter.

2. Mix in chives, lemon juice and grated lemon rind.

3. Place the mixture on a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into a log that is about 2" in diametre.

4. Refrigerate until firm (at least an hour).

5. Season steaks with salt and pepper. Grill over direct heat until they have reached desired doneness. Place a slice of Roquefort butter on each steak.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Chicken Breasts with Tomato Sauce

Well, I had a busy weekend and I tried no less than 6 new recipes....5 successes and one major flop. Should I post the flop? Would you guys even want to see flops? I haven't had a chance to download the pictures or write the posts yet, so this morning you are getting a simple everyday dinner that we had one night last week when Mario had to work late (I'm still a little scared of lighting that BBQ by myself).

This chicken wanted to become Chicken Cacciatore when it grew up, but it just never reached its full potential. It wasn't the chicken's fault, I wasn't following a recipe and so it didn't turn out much like an authentic Chicken Cacciatore. It was, however, quite delicious so I decided to post it anyway under a different name, "Chicken Breasts with Tomato Sauce". I know, I need to work on my originality...."Poulet avec sauce aux tomates"?

Chicken Breast with Tomato Sauce

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tsp olive oil
1 carrot, diced
1/2 large onion, diced
1/4 cup green pepper, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
3/4 cup red wine
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper

1. Bake or grill chicken in the oven until cooked (about 20-30 minutes at 350F). Remove from the over and slice.

2. In a skillet that has a cover, heat olive oil and sauté carrot, onion, green pepper and celery. Cook for about 5 minutes, add mushrooms and continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes.

3. Add canned tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine and thyme. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered for about 10-15 minutes.

4. Mix in sliced chicken and cook for a few more minutes (just to make sure everything is hot).

5. Serve over spaghetti.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Individual Bread Puddings

Last weekend for breakfast, I made baked eggs in bread-lined muffin tins. This required cutting the crusts off the bread, so I saved all the crusts in a Ziploc bag to make bread pudding for dessert sometime. I stuffed all the crusts down into the bottom of my ramekins so that they made little spirals.

I think the funniest part of this recipe was that I made myself a "light" version, different from the rest of the family's with 1/4 cup of egg beater, 1/4 cup skim milk and 1 tbsp of twin sugar substitute. Then when I was taking them out of the water bath, I wasn't paying attention and I got the "light" one mixed up with the regular ones. They all looked identical. You would think that the ones made with real eggs would be a little richer in colour or something, but nope, there was no difference in appearance. So one of us had a nice healthy low calorie, low fat bread pudding and the rest of us had the real thing. I was so mad at myself! The recipe below is for the regular version (have no idea which version is in the picture....)

Individual Bread Puddings

Whole Wheat Bread Crusts (from about 6-8 slices of bread)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup raisins
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten

1. Divide the bread crusts between 4 ramekins. Stuff them on edge down into the bottom of the dish so that they made a spiral (your finished product will look a little like a cinnamon bun).

2. Sprinkle each with 1/4 tsp cinnamon and some raisins.

3. Mix milk, egg and sugar and pour slowly over the bread in each ramekin.

4. Place ramekins in a square baking dish and fill dish with hot water (up to halfway up the sides of the ramekins).

5. Bake at 350F for about an hour. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream (or frozen yoghurt for the "light" one - whichever one that was!).

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Roasted Greek Potatoes

As promised in yesterday's post, here is the recipe for my Roasted Greek Potatoes. It is one of those recipes that I have been making for so many years (long before I had ever conceived of writing a food blog) that I have no idea who to give credit to. I have always kept the ingredients the same, but have played a lot with the cooking times, and amount of time covered/uncovered to achieve just that right combination of crispy and juicy. I love potatoes in just about any form, but this is one of my favorites because I think they come out just like those yummy potatoes you get when you order Greek takeout.

I have a convection oven, so if you don't you might have to increase the cooking time by about 20 minutes. Lining your baking dish with parchment is a must, or they will stick and you will be scrubbing for a week. Don't skimp on the lemon juice or the oregano. Trust me.

Roasted Greek Potatoes

5 large red potatoes, washed and not peeled
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Roughly chop potatoes and place in a parchment lined baking dish.

2. Mix garlic, lemon, oil, oregano, sugar, salt and pepper. Pour over potatoes and mix around with a rubber spatula until all are coated.

3. Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

4. Remove the foil, increase oven temperature to 400F and stir the potatoes around with a rubber spatula.

5. Continue cooking for 30 more minutes, stirring once to make sure all sides of the potatoes get brown. About 5 minutes before they're done, put the foil back on the dish. This softens them up nicely (if you prefer real crispy potatoes, skip this last step).

Friday, May 11, 2007

Polpettes with Tomato, Mozarella and Anchovies

My husband, Mario, was actually thumbing through one of my new cookbooks when he spotted this recipe. He pointed it out to me and asked if I could please make if for him. How could I say no? I was truly excited to see him reading a recipe book, and getting involved in helping me think of new recipes to blog about.

This is not a very traditional hamburger recipe - because there is no bun - nonetheless I am hoping it will qualify for Freya and Paul's Big Burger Ballyhoo 2007 hosted on their blog called Writing at the Kitchen Table.

The recipe called for the Polpettes to be fried, but I thought it seemed like a dish well suited to BBQing, and I was right! The fresh mozzarella cheese, ripe tomato and saltiness of the anchovies was a delicious combination.

I served this with some Greek potatoes that I have been making for years. The potatoes are super yummy and I will post the recipe tomorrow. Lastly, because we needed some veggies to round out the meal, I prepared some vegetable skewers with what I had on hand. I brushed them with a little olive oil, seasoned them with salt and pepper, and had Mario toss them on the grill alongside the Polpettes.

Good Job Sweetie! I might keep you around as my "Recipe Scout"....

Polpettes with Tomato, Mozarella and Anchovies
(adapted from Mediterranean Food of the Sun)

1/2 slice white bread, crusts removed
3 tbsp milk
1 lb ground beef
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 large ripe tomatoes
1 ball of fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 6 slices
12 canned drained anchovies
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. In a small saucepan (or in the microwave) warm the milk slightly and then mash the bread into the milk. Let cool.

2. Mix mashed bread, beef and beaten egg together. Season with salt and pepper and shape into 6 patties.

3. Sprinkle breadcrumbs onto a plate and dredge the patties lightly in the breadcrumbs.

4. Place the patties on the grill over direct heat. Cook for a few minutes on the first side, then turn and stack a slice of tomato, mozzarella and two anchovies and a sprinkle of parsley on each patty. Close the lid and cook until the burger has reached the desired doneness and the mozzarella has melted.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Grilled Teriyaki Salmon and Salad with Japanese Ginger Dressing

I have always loved the Ginger Salad Dressing that you are served in most Japanese restaurants (it's a "lick the plate" sort of love). So, I embarked on a quest to re-create this dressing at home. I think I was fairly successful, but I honestly don't know if I will make this again just due to the sheer number of ingredients involved. Besides, its such a treat go out and have it served to me in a restaurant. For the salad itself, I used roughly chopped iceberg lettuce, one grated carrot, and one chopped stalk of celery. For the life of me, I couldn't really remember what other vegetables are typically found in this sort of salad...

Also for dinner I made Grilled Teriyaki Salmon which was very simple. I served the salmon and salad with some leftover rice that came from a local takeout greek place called Greek on Wheels. The kids pretty much only ate the rice. Figures.

Japanese Ginger Salad Dressing

1/2 cup minced onion
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
2 tablespoons minced celery
1 tablespoons ketchup
4 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons white sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor and whiz until well blended and vegetables are pureed.

Grilled Teriyaki Salmon

4 salmon fillets
1/3 cup teriyaki sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 tbsp minced onion

1. Mix teriyaki with garlic, onion, and ginger.

2. Pour over salmon in a shallow dish. Let marinate about 30 minutes.

3. Grill salmon on BBQ or under broiler about 3 minutes per side.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


Oh.... my.....GOD!! We loved this recipe. I've never made Moussaka before, actually I've never even tasted Moussaka before, but I bought a new cookbook called Mediterranean Food of the Sun and this recipe just jumped out at me. Look for more recipes from this book over the next few months! Since this was a brand new recipe from a brand new book, I am going to submit this post to the Weekend Cookbook Challenge #16, where this month's theme is "Something New".

Never in a million gazillion years would I have expected my kids to eat this. In fact I would have just made them hotdogs, except we've got a pretty firm rule in our house that you eat what you've been served (or don't eat it, but don't expect me to make you something different). To my complete shock, they both gobbled this up. Claire even mopped up every last bit of juice with the homemade pita bread that I made to go alongside.

All in all, it wasn't too hard. I think it was about the same amount of work as making lasagna. I will post the recipe the way it was supposed to be made, but I lightened mine a little by: (1) grilling the eggplant under the broiler instead of frying, (2) browning the lamb and onion in just a little cooking spray, and (3) using 25% less fat butter for the roux in the white sauce, which I made with skim milk. Next time I make this, I think I will peel the eggplant before I slice them.


2 lbs eggplant
1/2 cup olive oil
2 large tomatoes
2 large onions, sliced
1 lb ground lamb
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 tbsp butter
1/2 cup flour
2 1/2 cups milk
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
3 tbsp toasted breadcrumbs

1. Cut eggplants into 1/4" thick slices. Layer the slices in a colander with plenty of salt sprinkled on each layer. Let stand 30 minutes, and rinse off salt. Rinse 2 or 3 times with cold water and dry eggplants with paper towel.

2. Heat some of the oil in a large frying pan and fry eggplant in batches until golden on both sides, adding more oil as needed.

3. Plunge tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds, then refresh in cold water. Peel and chop roughly.

4. Heat some oil and brown lamb in large skillet, break up large pieces (drain excess fat) and add onions, cook a few more minutes.

5. Add tomatoes, cinnamon, allspice, tomato paste, parsley, wine, and pepper to the meat and onions. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered for 15 minutes.

6. Spoon alternating layers into a greased 9"x13" baking dish. Start with a layer of eggplant, then half the meat mixture. Then another layer of eggplant, and the second half of the meat mixture. Finish with a layer of eggplant.

7. Make the sauce. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Stir in flour and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and slowly stir in milk. Return to heat and whisk until sauce thickens. Stir in nutmeg and Parmesan.

8. Spread sauce over last layer of eggplant and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake for 45 minutes at 350F. Let sit 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007


I really try not to buy too many store bought cookies for our family. In fact just about the only ones I actually buy are fig newtons, I love them and I'm not sure you could make them homemade with only 40 calories each (I might try sometime though, just for fun).

Cookies are really so easy to make and there are just so many different varieties. These ones, Snickerdoodles, are really no-fuss. The cookie dough is a little dry and so it doesn't spread out much in the oven on its own. That is why the recipe says to press them down with the bottom of a glass before you bake. I tried a few different thicknesses. One batch I flattened to about 1/3", others I left a little thicker. Mario and the kids preferred the ones that I didn't flatten too much because the inside stayed softer. The flattened ones were crispy throughout. So whichever you prefer....


1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 2/3 cup flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. Cream together the butter and the sugar. Beat in the egg, mixing well.

2. Add flour, salt and baking powder. Mixing until all is incorporated.

3. Mix 2 tbsp sugar with cinnamon and spread on a plate.

4. Roll cookie dough into balls the size of an eyeball (just kidding) the size of an egg yolk and roll in cinnamon sugar.

5. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet and flatten slightly with the bottom of a glass.

6. Bake for 10 minutes at 400F.

Monday, May 7, 2007

White Kidney Bean Soup with Carrot Salsa

As winter slowly makes way for BBQ season here in Ottawa, I figured we better get the last of that toasty-warm-soup-comfort-food craving out of our systems before its too hot to even consider using the stove. This is a recipe I found years ago on a can of white kidney beans, that I bought by accident (actually wanted red kidney beans to make Chili). It was a fortunate mistake, because this soup has become a bit of a winter staple for us.

The soup is very healthy and my kids both love it. I should dedicate this recipe to my friend Julie, who faithfully reads my blog even though she's a vegetarian and most of my recipes are meat-centric.

White Kidney Bean Soup with Carrot Salsa

1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped

3/4 tsp cumin

3/4 tsp coriander
2 cans (540 ml) white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups vegetable stock

salt and pepper

For the Salsa:

1 carrot, grated
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
4 tsp chopped fresh cilantro

1. Heat 1 tsp of olive oil and sauté onion and garlic until soft. Add cumin and coriander, cook 1 minute. Add stock and beans. Simmer 15 minutes.

2. Blend soup in a food processor or blender until smooth. Season to taste. Return to stove to keep warm until ready to serve.
3. Grate carrot, mix with lemon juice and cilantro. Use as garnish on soup.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Cinnamon French Toast

I made French toast for breakfast mainly because I needed to use up a flopped batch of cinnamon bread that I made a few weeks ago and then threw in the freezer. See here for the batch that actually turned out.

I think that the trick to making excellent French toast, is to let the bread sit for a while after you've dipped it in the egg. You can't just dip it, and then throw it straight onto the frying pan (as most restaurants do) because the inside will still be dry. You need a good heavy/firm loaf of bread to do this, so it doesn't become soggy. Generally speaking, I use 1 egg per two slices of bread, and I don't usually measure the milk. Serve with warmed maple syrup.

Cinnamon Bread French Toast

8 thick slices Cinnamon Bread
4 eggs
1/4 cup milk
oil or cooking spray for frying

1. Mix eggs, milk and a dash of salt in a shallow dish (a pie plate works well).

2. Dip each slice of bread for a few seconds on each side into the mixture. Set the bread in a single layer on a cookie sheet. If you have any egg mixture left over after you've dipped all the slices, pour it over the bread on the cookie sheet.

3. Let the bread sit for at least 10 minutes, and up to half an hour.

4. Heat a frying pan with cooking spray (or oil if you prefer) and fry the slices over medium heat until browned on each side.

5. Serve with maple syrup.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Garlic Shrimp with Barley Salad

Many nights for dinner I actually follow recipes, even making special trips to the grocery store for just the right ingredients (ask Mario about my grocery shopping addiction...). But sometimes, I get lazy and I just toss something together on the fly. Sometimes that works out fabulously and other times.... well those dinners don't get posted. This one was pretty adequate.

I rummaged around in the deep freeze before breakfast, totally undecided about what I would make.... roast pork - takes too long, ribs - ditto, chicken breast - don't feel like it, italian sausages - too fattening, chicken nuggets - too pre-made.... then ah-ha from the scary depths of the freezer I pulled a bag of frozen (duh) raw peeled tiger shrimp. I can ALWAYS figure out something to do with shrimp.

Before I left for work I put the shrimp in a covered dish with about a 1/4 cup of olive oil and 2 cloves of minced garlic to marinate in the fridge. Then I sat at my desk at work all day, thinking about my shrimp, and surfing the internet (but just a little bit I promise) for ideas on how to complete what I started.

Sometime after my second cup of coffee, I remember that I had a container of leftover cooked barley in the fridge, and so I concocted a "barley salad" that is loosely based on my friend, Krista's, recipe for "couscous salad" (which I may post someday, if she doesn't mind).

Sautéed Garlic Shrimp

1lb raw shrimp
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
Splash of white wine
salt and pepper

1. Marinate shrimp in garlic and olive oil.

2. When ready to eat scoop shrimp out of the marinade with a slotted spoon (don't need to get ALL that oil). Place in a skillet over medium-high heat and sauté for a few minutes, until the shrimp is pink and cooked through. Add a splash of white wine and season while cooking.

Barley Salad

1 1/2 cups cooked barley
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 chopped tomato
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper

1. Mix together lemon juice, and olive oil and pour over all remaining ingredients. Mix it all up until everything is coated. Season to taste.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Red Snapper Veracruz

I am always on the lookout for new, interesting, and healthy fish recipes. This one is very healthy, as you will notice there is no added oil or butter in this recipe. I searched for Red Snapper Veracruz on the internet and ended up creating a recipe based on my favorite parts of two or three of the recipes I found. I served this with couscous (made with vegetable stock, grated zucchini, diced green onion and cilantro) and green beans (parboiled then sautéed in 1 tsp of butter with garlic and lemon). Marco gobbled up his dinner, Claire didn't touch hers.

Red Snapper Veracruz

4 snapper fillets
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 cup red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
cilantro for garnish

1. Mix lime, lemon, garlic and chili powder. Pour over snapper fillets in a shallow baking dish that has a cover. Let marinate for about 10 minutes.

2. Sprinkle, peppers, onions and tomatoes over top of the snapper. Bake covered at 350F for about 30-40 minutes, or until the fish is white and flaky.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Maple Syrup Creme Brulée

This was the first time that I made Creme Brulée, and it wasn't nearly as finicky as I thought it would be. In fact it would be a perfect dessert to serve for guests because it can be made entirely in advance.

Things got a little interesting when I got to this part of the recipe: "sprinkle each creme with a teaspoon of turbinado sugar and caremelize with a blow torch".... well, I don't have one of those nifty little kitchen blow torches, but it's OK - don't worry, I had a plan!! Off I trotted down to Mario's workshop for that big blowtorch he uses on plumbing or something. I fired it up .....WHOOOOSH.... and after my life finished flashing before my eyes, I was left with a pretty impressive looking and nicely browned creme brulee - and I got to use power tools too!! [insert sexy grunting noise here].

I was excited for my kids to try this because they've never had it before (when we're in restaurants they usually go for the "chocolate pudding with crushed Oreos and gummy worms" over anything sophisticated like Creme Brulée). They both ate it well enough, but they weren't too keen on the caramelized sugar crust and I don't think they knew they were eating anything other than plain old Jello Pudding from a box.

Maple Syrup Creme Brulée

2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
4 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

1. Preheat oven to 300F.

2. Combine egg yolks, whole egg and maple syrup in a mixing bowl. Meanwhile, heat the cream in a saucepan until it comes to a boil.

3. Whisk about 1/2 cup of the hot cream into the egg mixture. Wait a minute, then add the remaining cream and whisk.

4. Strain the custard into another bowl or a measuring cup. Stir in the vanilla. Pour the mixture into ramekins (I filled 6 ramekins).

5. Place the ramekins in a baking dish and fill the dish with hot water until the water comes about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 55 minutes.

6. Remove ramekins from water bath and let cool at room temperature. Chill for several hours until ready to serve (you can even do this a day ahead).

7. Fun part: when ready to serve, sprinkle a teaspoon of turbinado sugar (regular sugar worked fine for me) on each creme and caremelize with a blow torch.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Crusted Rack of Lamb

I adore lamb, but I only started eating it a few years ago. I hated it as a child, and as with most things you hate as a child, you should try it again every few years just to make sure you still hate it. I neglected to do this with lamb and I missed countless opportunities to indulge in what has probably since become my number one favorite meat.

I served the lamb with sautéed vegetables and potato croquettes. I made the potato croquettes with leftover mashed potatoes. I shaped them into little logs, dipped them in egg whites and rolled them in panko. Then baked them at 400F with cooking spray for about 30 minutes (turning often).

The recipe below is for one rack of lamb (which usually has about 8 ribs - the perfect amount for our family), but if you are making more, just multiply the recipe as required. I was actually surprised when both my kids polished off their entire dinner, this was good because I made Maple Syrup Creme Brulée for dessert and it would have been a shame if they didn't get to try some. (I'll post the creme brulée soon).

Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Crusted Rack of Lamb

1 frenched rack of lamb
1 head of garlic (not a clove - a whole head)
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp grainy Dijon mustard
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
1/2 cup fresh whole wheat bread crumbs (seasoned with salt and pepper)

1. Preheat oven to 400F, cut about a 1/4 slice off the top of the head of garlic and drizzle with 1/2 tbsp of olive oil. Wrap very loosely with foil and bake for 45 minutes. You can do this far in advance (in the morning or the day before).

2. Squeeze the flesh out of the garlic skins and discard the skins. Mash the garlic with a fork and mix in 1 tbsp oil, mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and rosemary. Set aside.

3. Place lamb, fat side up on a broiler rack and roast in a 400F oven for 10 minutes.

4. Remove lamb from oven and spread garlic mixture over the fat side of the rack. Press breadcrumbs onto the meat. Return to the oven and continue roasting for about 20 minutes, or until a meat thermometre reads 135 (for medium-rare).

5. If the crumb topping is a little pale, place the lamb under the broiler for about 1 minute (mine didn't need this, but I used convection when I roasted the lamb). Slice between the ribs and serve.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Almond Butter Cookies with Dark Chocolate Buds

There is a little story behind these cookies. A couple of months ago, I noticed that President's Choice had a new Almond Butter product. It was a natural Almond Butter with no sugar added. I bought some thinking that if the kids would eat it in place of peanut butter, it would so healthy. Almonds are loaded with protein, fibre, calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin E and other good stuff. Anyway, like many of my well laid plans, it didn't work out. The kids had other ideas and neither one of them would even TASTE the almond butter, that is, until I baked these cookies! Ha, take that! Score: Mom 1 - Kids 0.... but wait they did get me to make these scrumptious cookies... Mom 0 - Kids 3000.

This recipe is my own concoction, I figured that any peanut butter cookie recipe would work just as well with the Almond Butter. The dark chocolate buds were an afterthought, because I had some I wanted to use up, but they were perfect! I was going to take these to work, but no one would let me leave the house with them.

Almond Butter Cookies with Dark Chocolate Buds

1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 package of dark chocolate buds

1. With a whisk, beat together the almond butter and butter.

2. Beat in the sugar and brown sugar and then the egg.

3. In another bowl sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients a little at a time to the almond butter mixture. Stirring until it is all incorporated.

4. Roll dough into 1" balls. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet and press down on each with a fork (spray a little cooking spray on the fork so it doesn't stick).

5. Top each cookie with a chocolate bud. If there are any chocolate buds leftover, eat them before anybody else notices.

6. Bake cookies for 15 minutes at 300F. If you prefer a crispier cookie bake for 9 minutes at 375F.