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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Fajitas and Spanish Rice

Yesterday, one of my new friends in the blogging world wrote an incredible review of my site, and I am just so excited about it that I wanted to share it with everyone. Please visit KeMari's site to check it out... Phattitudes.

OK - well that is probably enough horn-tooting for one day (I'm awesome - sorry that slipped). I was thinking that since I started this blog (I rock - oops) in March I haven't missed a daily post yet. But, I am going to be away until Monday at a Canada Day weekend cottage party, and so I am hoping that for the next two days I will be too tipsy to type out my blogger ID or password. But don't worry, I will leave you with a couple of recipes to keep you busy in your kitchens until I'm back.

This was a simple weeknight dinner that we had on Wednesday. This meal highlighted an interesting phenomenon... When I serve out a healthy plate of dinner for my kids, they whine and moan about eating the vegetables or "green stuff" and often leave a lot of the best parts behind. But when I put everything out in the middle of the table, for a serve yourself type meal, they pile everything up onto their plates... and then EAT it all!! Maybe it has something to do with giving them the power to decide themselves what to eat that encourages them to make wiser more mature choices... who knows, I won't question it too much.

This Spanish rice is a really nice dish, I tried several versions of a spanish/mexican style rice before I found this recipe and I've been making it ever since. I have also included the recipe for the guacamole. I did make the salsa too, but I had to make a few substitutions because I didn't have all my usual ingredients on hand, so I will wait until the next time I make salsa to post that recipe.

Beef and Chicken Fajitas

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 lb steak (I used sirloin)
1 tbsp olive oil
Mexican Seasoning Mix
1 onion
1 green pepper
10 6" flour tortillas

1. Wrap tortillas in foil. Place a couple of sheets of dampened paper towel in with them to prevent them from drying out. Place foil packet in the oven at about 300°F to warm up while you get everything else ready.

2. Slice chicken and beef into strips. Sauté chicken in olive oil until almost cooked.

3. Add green pepper and onion. Sauté until soft.

4. Add beef and cook until desired doneness. Sprinkle with Mexican seasoning mix to taste. Keep warm.

5. Serve with warmed tortillas, sour cream, grated cheese, salsa and guacamole (recipe follows).


3 ripe avocados, peeled
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp hot sauce
1/4 tbsp garlic
2 tbsp chopped onion
1 tbsp lemon juice (or more if you like it tangy)

1. Place avocados, sour cream, salt, pepper, hot sauce garlic and onion in a food processor. Process until smooth.

2. Add lemon juice to taste.

Spanish Rice

2 cups water
1 1/2 cups chopped green pepper
1 cup chopped onion
1 tsp salt
1 can (28oz) diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups rice
2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
dash hot sauce
fresh cilantro
1/4 cup grated Monterrey Jack

1. In a medium saucepan combine water, pepper, onion, and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

2. Stir in undrained tomatoes, rice, chili powder, black pepper, and red pepper sauce.

3. Return to boil and simmer covered for 20-25 minutes until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Place rice in a serving dish and sprinkle with Monterrey Jack cheese.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Olive Cheese Bread

It seems like my biggest challenge lately with posting my recipes has been competing with my 7 year old, Claire, for computer time. Anyone ever heard of Webkinz? Well Webkinz World is sort of like Facebook for kids. Claire is standing over my shoulder right now, rushing me, so she can get back on the computer.

The recipe that I am posting today, was something we had on the side with our dinner last weekend (you can see it in the background of my Chicken Orzo picture). It was so good.

I got this recipe from a blog called The Pioneer Woman Cooks. It is a fantastic site, but don't go there if you are on a diet! Seriously, you should check it out, it is funny and there are step by step photo instructions for this recipe.

I adjusted the amounts slightly so I could reflect them in "cups" instead of "cans" (I always have trouble with recipes from the US that call for a 6oz can of something, since in Canada that would be ??ml)

Claire just asked me to type out "it was yucky", but I would urge you to try it for yourself first!

Olive Cheese Bread

1 loaf french or italian bread
1 cup chopped pimento stuffed olives
1 cup chopped black olives
2 green onions
2 cups grated Monterrey Jack Cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup butter, softened

1. Roughly chop the olives and green onions. Mix with grated cheese, mayonnaise and butter.

2. Slice the bread in half lengthwise and half pile the mixture on top of each half of the loaf.

3. Bake at 325°F for about 25 minutes, until melted and started to brown on top. Cut into slices and serve.

4. This is really filling, so you may only need half the loaf, the other half can be wrapped and frozen (before you bake it) for later.

P.S. Thanks to everyone that voted in my "Should Janet be allowed to drive the new car" poll. There were 193 votes cast and I won with 64%!!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Hot Artichoke Dip

Well, I had an interesting day yesterday. Somehow through the wonders of the internet, my little food blog became the center of a debate over at the GM Insider Forum where somebody started a thread called "should his WIFE drive his G35?". Wow. Mario, still has cramps from laughing so hard. I shot myself in the foot. Not the first time, won't be the last.

I am going to close this now infamous poll down at the end of the day today, so it's your last chance to have your say (i.e. vote for me).

And just to demonstrate what a tremendous wife I really am, and how deserving I am of winning, I am going to post a recipe for some "Man Food". This is a nice yummy hot dip that I served to Mario with a cold beer while he was watching the football game, and I wasn't wearing any... oh wait, it's not football season?? details details ...

He loved it.

Hot Artichoke Dip

2/3 cup Parmesan Cheese
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1 tbsp chopped pimento peppers

1. Blend all ingredients together.

2. Bake 25 minutes at 325°F until lightly browned.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Ginger Sparklers

Well, the last few days I have been running a little poll in my sidebar. It was just for fun to help settle a minor domestic issue that Mario and I are having, concerning who will get more time behind the wheel of our brand new car, which we get next week.

I assumed that I would win by a landslide, considering this is MY site and all. But obviously Mario must have been buying votes, because the outcome is very close (50/50 right now). So... thank you to all my "loyal" readers!! Maybe since you all like Mario so much, I ought to just turn the site over to him ... but he might have to change the name to "Mario is Single"...

Seriously, you guys better start being nicer to me, one of these times when you aren't paying attention, I'm going to add a cup of salt to one of my recipes! Ha take that!

So speaking of recipe's....today's is a good one.

These cookies are a little bit of a blast from my past. My Mom used to make these when we were little. She got the recipe from an old Robin Hood Flour cookbook and I still work from a wrinkly-grease stained photocopy of the original page.

There is just something about the flavour of these cookies, I don't know what it is, but they are so GOOD. And the sugar on the outside gives them a delightful little crunch. The recipe makes 50 cookies.

Ginger Sparklers

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup butter
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg

1. Whisk together the flour, salt and spices.

2. Cream together the butter, brown sugar, molasses and egg.

3. Pour dry ingredients into creamed mixture. Mix well.

4. Roll into small 1" balls. Roll the balls in sugar and place 2" apart on a greased baking sheet.

5. Bake at 375°F for 8-10 minutes.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Chicken Orzo

I bought a package of Orzo for the first time a couple of months ago, and I've had my eyes peeled for a good Orzo recipe ever since.

I was still scouting out recipes when on Saturday, the package of Orzo fell out of my pantry cupboard and landed on Marco's Tonka truck, splitting open. I have a wall of pantry cupboards in my kitchen that go right to the ceiling, and in general when you need to get something out of them you have to employ a very quick-handed and highly skilled "open-grab-close" technique.

Needless to say, following a successful Orzo salvage operation, I decided it was time to try a new recipe.

I pretty much improvised this entire meal, and made things up as I went. I was very pleased with the results, and I will definitely make Orzo again. Although, it took me 5 minutes at the dinner table to convince Claire that it wasn't rice. She thought I was trying to trick her into taking a bite (not that I wouldn't do that).

I also really really wanted to add a tablespoon or so of chopped up capers to this recipe, but I turned my fridge upside down and couldn't find any.... don't ask me who ate all the capers. I'm sure I had a bottle. "The Missing Caper Caper"...yeah - sorry that wasn't very funny was it?

Chicken Orzo

1 cup orzo
2 tsp olive oil
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
2 oz proscuitto
1 chopped onion
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup white wine
1 can (28oz) diced tomatoes
3 tbsp chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup mozzarella
1/4 cup Parmesan

1. Cook Orzo in boiling water for 7-9 minutes. Drain. (HOT TIP: MAKE SURE THE HOLES OF YOUR REGULAR COLANDER AREN'T TOO BIG OR YOU WILL POUR ALL YOUR ORZO DOWN THE SINK AND YOU WILL HAVE TO COOK MORE... not that happened to me, or anything...)

2. Chop raw chicken into bite sized cubes (this is really easy to do, if your chicken it still a little frozen). Heat olive oil and saute chicken, onion, and garlic. Once chicken is almost cooked, add proscuitto and cook a few minutes more.

3. Drain tomatoes, reserving about 1/2 cup of the juice. Add tomatoes, 1/2 cup juice, wine, and herbs.

4. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in Orzo and Mozzarella cheese.

5. Dump all out into a big pasta serving bowl and sprinkle with Parmesan.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Peach Squares

When I saw that the theme for this month's Sugar High Friday was "Cravings", I knew I had to make this recipe. This was my all-time favorite dessert as a child, and my Mom used to make it often. I haven't had it for so long, I wasn't even sure I would still like it, since most people's tastes mature as they become adults. Well apparently that didn't happen to me, I still love this dessert.

Unfortunately my love for this dessert was not genetic, because my kids completely turned their noses up at it. And since Mario hates coconut, I don't think that this one will become a staple in my home, as it was in my Mother's.

Still, I would wholeheartedly recommend this dessert to anyone who loves coconut, and peaches, and cold, no-bake simple desserts.

I can't wait to see the rest of the Sugar High Friday Round up over at the Domestic Goddess, once Jennifer has a chance to post all the entries, maybe I will find a new craving that the rest of my family will eat...

Peach Squares
serves 9

Graham Wafers
1 package Dream Whip
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 can peaches (14oz), drained and coarsely mashed
1/2 cup sugar

1. Cream butter and sugar. Add egg, coconut and mashed peaches.

2. Line bottom of greased 9"x9" pan with graham wafers. Cover with peach mixture. Cover with more graham wafers (in my excitement, I completely forgot to add the top layer of graham wafers - oops).

3. Prepare Dream Whip according to package instructions and spread over top.

4. Sprinkle with graham crumbs or coconut. Chill 3-4 hours and cut into squares.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Grilled Apricot Chicken

Before I get into today's recipe, I need to get something completely un-food-related out of the way. Mario and I have just bought a new car. Mario picked the car, and I like to call it his "mid-life crisis car". It will be fast and sporty. Well Mario has decided (just because I had one teency weency run in with a concrete wall in a parking garage once - which could have happened to anyone), that I shouldn't be allowed to drive the "mid-life-crisis car". And so, I think it is time to run another poll in the sidebar... please help me out!!

I have made this recipe many times in the past, it is a simple and tasty way to eat plain chicken breasts. The chicken stays moist and juicy. This time, I was out of Apricot preserves, but I had a bottle of Tropical Mixed Fruit Jam in the fridge (combination of papaya, mango, banana, pineapple, and orange). It was a very nice substitution and I would do it that way again.

Grilled Apricot Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice
3 tbsp sugar free Apricot Jam
pinch of grated lime rind
1/2 tbsp grated ginger

1. Mix last four ingredients together and paint all over chicken breasts. Let sit for about 30 minutes in a shallow dish.

2. Heat grill and paint any extra Apricot sauce on the chicken. Barbeque over direct heat for about 15-20 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Fish Tacos

This is one of the only ways that I can really get my kids to eat much fish. But that is OK, because we all really enjoy eating our fish this way. The first time I had a fish taco was in Belize and the fish was deep fried and it was unbelievably good. I certainly don't want to deep fry at home, so I broil the fish and it still turns out very nice.

I lightened this recipe by using egg whites, and cooking spray and low fat miracle whip in the Tartar sauce. But you don't have to do it that way. If you use a whole egg to bread the fish, pan fry in a little oil and make the tartar sauce with full fat mayo, it would probably be even yummier...

In the picture, the tacos are served with a mixed green salad and a carrot and raisin salad. Yes, that was one heck of a lot of lettuce!

Fish Tacos

4 flour tortillas
4 fillets of white fish (I used snapper)
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup egg whites
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup bread crumbs
cooking spray

Tartar Sauce:
1 cup mayonnaise (I used light Mirable Whip)
2 tbsp finely diced green onion
1/2 cup finely diced dill pickles
1 1/2 tsp chopped capers
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1. Mix all the ingredients for the tartar sauce and set aside.

2. On a plate, mix together the cornmeal and the breadcrumbs.

3. Dry the fish on paper towel. Dredge with flour, dip into egg whites and then into cornmeal/breadcrumb mixture.

4. Spray the outside of the fish on both sides with cooking spray and place under pre-heated broiler rack for about 5 minutes on each side or until the fish is cooked.

5. Meanwhile, heat a dry skillet over high heat and heat the tortillas one at a time for about 30 seconds on each side, until they puff up slightly.

6. Assemble the tacos with the fish, a spoonful of tartar sauce and some crispy iceberg lettuce.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Mexican Chopped Salad

This is a great recipe to go alongside any sort of Mexican or Caribbean dish. The lime based dressing is very tasty and the crispy tortilla chips are the main attraction. I didn't have red onion so I used regular. You can also add olives and/or jalapeno peppers. This is a great use of the broken chips at the bottom of the bag (if you can bring yourself to save them instead of tipping the bag up and pouring them in your mouth - GUILTY).

In this picture, the salad is shown with Caribbean style black beans and rice, grilled snapper with cajun seasoning (bottled) and crostata with pesto sauce (bottled)....see? I don't make EVERYTHING from scratch...

Mexican Chopped Salad

8 cups (approx) of shredded iceberg and romaine lettuce
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
1/2 cup cucumber, chopped
1 cup broken tortilla chips
juice of one lime
1 tbsp salsa
2 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Place the lettuce, tomato, onion and cucumber in a large salad bowl.

2. Mix dressing: In a bottle, place olive oil, lime juice, salsa and cilantro. Shake vigorously until well mixed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Toss salad with the dressing. At the last minute, toss in the tortilla chips.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Muskoka Cookies

I made a batch of these cookies a couple of days ago and brought half of them into work, and sent the other half to Mario's work. I was so anxious to get them OUT of the house (so I wouldn't eat them all) that I actually forgot to leave any at home for the kids.

I felt a little bad about that, because it is one of their favorites, so last night I started pulling out all the ingredients to make another batch. While I was doing that, I also had dinner on the go, and I guess I wasn't paying that much attention to the kids. Marco walked into the kitchen....

Yes folks that was permanent marker.... sorry buddy no cookies for you! So I put the ingredients back away, and decided to put on EXTRA vegetables for dinner instead!

Muskoka Cookies
from the May 2003 issue of Today's Parent Magazine

4 cups quick oats
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup chocolate chips

1. In a large microwave safe bowl (or a saucepan) melt the butter.

2. Stir in the brown sugar until melted.

3. Stir in the oats until coated, and then stir in the chocolate chips.

4. Press the mixture down into a greased 11"x16" cookie sheet with a 1/2" lip. Press until well packed and even.

5. Bake at 375°F for about 10-12 minutes until edges start to brown and mixture is bubbly. Let cool and cut into squares.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Mashed Potato Puffs

If you only ever try one recipe from my blog, let it be this one.

This is by far the best mashed potato recipe I've ever tasted. I got this recipe originally from my mother-in-law and then one day surfing around, I found the exact same recipe on the LCBO Food and Drink Website. I made this recipe many many times before I managed to get it right, but I'm glad I kept trying.

The eggs in this recipe make the potatoes puff up and become light and fluffy. You can make this in a casserole dish, or in individual muffin tins, or ramekins as I did. This is also something that you can make ahead quite easily.

My first tip is to weigh the potatoes. The recipe calls for three pounds, so don't guess.... "well there's 10 potatoes in this 5 lb bag, so divided by 5 equals 2 potatoes times 3 equals 6 potatoes".... don't do that! That is calculus, not cooking! The consistency of the potato mixture before you cook it should be a little runny and if you use too many potatoes it won't work right.

Another tip, is to cook this at high heat 450°F, the original recipe calls for a much lower temperature and I found the eggs didn't puff up enough, and the cottage cheese didn't quite melt (you could still detect curds of cottage cheese in the mashed potatoes). This recipe will serve about 8 people (the LBCO recipe says FOUR people, but I don't know who those people would be - giants maybe).

Mashed Potato Puffs
adapted from LCBO Food and Drink

3 lbs potatoes, peeled
1 cup cottage cheese
4 eggs
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 green onions, diced (white part only)
salt and pepper (use white pepper if you don't want flecks)

1. Boil the potatoes well. Boil the crap out of them. Drain and return to the burner. Continue to cook the potatoes over low heat for about 5 more minutes (stir so they don't stick) this will get all the extra water out of the potatoes.

2. Mash the potatoes very well. We want NO LUMPS. I put the potatoes through a potato ricer which takes care of that nicely.

3. In another bowl, with a hand mixer, beat the eggs, butter and cottage cheese until fluffy. Add in the potatoes and onions and beat with hand mixer until all mixed together.

4. Put the mixture into a greased casserole dish, or muffin tins. This is where you can let it cool and refridgerate, if you are making them ahead (let them come back to room temperature before baking though).

5. Bake in a 450°F oven for about 25 minutes (a little more if you are making them in a big casserole dish). The potatoes should puff up and get a little brown on top.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Prime Rib Roast and Yorkshire Pudding

As most of you might know, I ran a poll last week on my blog to help decide what I would make for dinner for Mario on Father's Day and much to Mario's delight, the Prime Rib came out on top.

The general rule when you are buying a standing rib roast is to get about one rib per two people. I only needed enough for two, plus a tiny bit for the kids, but you really can't get a standing rib roast with one rib, because then it's a rib steak (and it won't stand). The butcher asked me how big I wanted it and first I giggled like a dummy because I have a dirty mind, then I pulled my thoughts out of the gutter, and I said "three ribs please".

Why I said three ribs, I don't know. As soon as he cut it I knew it was WAY too big. And I stood there in front of the counter with a sense of impending doom as I watched him weight it then slap the evil little sticker on the package.... $47.89.... HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!! Holy Moly. I should have said something, made him cut it smaller, but I felt stupid, so off I went with my massive prime rib for two!

I came home and showed it to Mario. After we finished re-starting his heart, he cut it into two roasts and I froze one for later.

There isn't really much of a recipe for the roast. We slice 2 deep holes into the meat, and shove in some whole garlic cloves. The outside gets rubbed with a little oil, and then seasoned with seasoning salt, pepper and Montreal Steak Spice. We cook this on the barbecue over indirect heat until it reaches 145° (for medium rare). We cooked our 3lb roast for just about 1.5 hours to get this temperature.

Yorkshire pudding is a mandatory side dish for prime rib. I love it, and always have. It is best if you use fat drippings from the beef instead of oil, but you can substitute oil if you don't have drippings or you want to be 'healthy' (rolling my eyes). I placed a brand new clean drip pan under the beef in the barbeque so that I was able to collect the drippings about 30 minutes before the roast was done.

One other note: for the gravy, I cheated and used a packaged mix. I know its bad and I would never do this in the winter. In the winter I would use a gravy separator to get rid of most of the fat and make the gravy in the roasting pan using water from the boiled vegetables and flour to thicken. This is harder when you are barbecuing the roast. But the added flavour from the barbecue, I think, more than makes up for the packaged gravy mix.

The very BEST part about this dinner, is the leftovers!!! Yummy hot roast beef sandwiches the next night for dinner!

Yorkshire Pudding

1 cup flour
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup fat drippings
3/4 tsp salt

1. Mix flour, milk and eggs together. Beat well. You can let the batter sit for about 30 minutes before you cook.

2. Place about 1 tbsp of hot fat in each of 4 large muffin tins. Place the muffin tin in a oven preheated to 450°F until the fat is hot and bubbly.

3. Take the tin out of the oven and pour in the batter. Place the tin back in and cook for anout 25 to 30 minutes. Don't take them out of the oven too soon, or else they will fall. They should puff up really high, and get nice and brown and crispy on the outside.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Cape Cod Apple Pudding

This is the last of the packets that I cooked for dinner on Friday night to go along with the Lamb Shoulder Chops and the Potato Packets. This was the first time I have made this recipe on the barbecue. According to the original Fanny Farmer recipe, you would make this dessert on the stovetop. Just cook the apples until tender in a saucepan and then put the dough on top and cover. Everything gets simmered for about 20 minutes until the dough is cooked.

Instead, I tried sealing the whole thing in a packet and cooking it on the barbecue. I used a can of apple pie filling because I didn't have any fresh apples on hand and because I would have had to pre-cook the apples in the house, and this meal was all about not dirtying dishes! Although I still managed to make quite a mess in the kitchen... One of these days I should post some before and after pictures of my kitchen, the nice clean tidy before shot, and the "tornado has swept through" shot. In case anyone was ever wondering why I don't post those "step-by-step" photos to show the food at different stages of cooking, it is because I would be too embarrassed by the disaster in the background.... Never fear though, when I'm all done cooking... Claire cleans everything up!

Cape Cod Apple Pudding
adapted from Fanny Farmer

1 can apple pie filling
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup raisins
2 tbsp slivered almonds

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup milk

1. On a large sheet of foil, dump the apple pie filling and sprinkle with cinnamon, raisins and slivered almonds.

2. Mix biscuit dough: stir together the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar.

3. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender. Stir in the milk.

4. Knead dough about 10 times and roll or pat out into about a 8-10" circle.

5. Lay the circle of dough on top of the apples, and seal the packet.

6. Place on the grill and cook for about 30 minutes, until the dough is cooked through.

7. Open the packet and invert onto a serving dish. Serve with ice cream.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Barbecued Potato Packets

In yesterday's post for Lamb Shoulder Chops, I left everyone with a bit of teaser about what was contained in all of the other foil packets on the barbecue. The first two packages had the Lamb Shoulder Chops. The third packet had this potato recipe, and the last had dessert, which was a Cape Cod Apple Pudding (I will post that tomorrow).

These potato packets were good and tasty. The kids loved them, even though Marco isn't usually much of a potato fan. My Mom often used to make potato packets on the barbecue with sliced potatoes, sliced onions, salt, pepper and butter. I decided to jazz things up a bit with this recipe and so I added bacon and Parmesan.

I did make one mistake, I thought I'd be "professional-ish" and just pour the olive oil onto the potatoes straight from the bottle like the TV chefs do, you know, "and just add about a glug or two of olive oil". Issue was my olive oil bottle went glug....glug....glug glug glug..SPLAT. I have no idea how much I put on, but it was WAY too much. I think about 2 tablespoons would have done the trick.

Father's Day Poll Update: The winner of the Father's Day Poll in the side bar was Prime Rib with Yorkshire Pudding with 41.2% of the vote. And so I am off to the butcher to find a nice prime rib. I am also happy to report that this was Mario's preferred dinner, so he is pleased. Thanks for voting! I'll post the Father's Day Recipes sometime this week.

Barbecued Potato Packets

20 mini red potatoes
6 slices bacon, crumbled
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 red onion, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Wash potatoes and cut in half. Place potatoes and remaining ingredients into foil packets.

2. Place on grill over indirect heat for 1 hour. Be careful when you are opening the packet!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Lamb Shoulder Chop Packets

First of all, I'd like to remind everyone to vote for Mario's Father's Day dinner in the sidebar, if you haven't already. I am going to go shopping for the ingredients tomorrow morning. Mario keeps checking back to see if his favorite is winning. He thinks I should have let HIM pick his Father's Day Dinner... but really, how much fun would THAT be!

Last night we had what I like to call a "packet dinner". In two of those BBQ packets there are lamb shoulder chops.... if you want to find out what was in the other packets, you will have to come back tomorrow!

Lamb shoulder chops are a little tougher than some other cuts of lamb, and I think they benefit most from braising. Since I didn't want to have the oven on so long on such a hot day, I decided to try slow cooking them on the BBQ in packets. To do this, I had to tell Mario to go easy on the heat in the BBQ. It was really hard for Mario to practice this sort of restraint. This is a guy who giggles like a 10 year old when he manages to build the campfire 12 feet high and I couldn't even tell you how many times, since I've known him, that he burnt off his arm hair and eyebrows...

I only had time to marinate the lamb for about an hour, but I think if you had more time it would be even better. When I marinate meat, I use my food saver machine and put all the ingredients with the meat in a bag and suction seal it. This accelerates the marinating. I think I might have got a little carried away when I was chucking stuff into the bag, and I hope I remembered everything I put in. In the end, the dinner worked out great. The lamb was juicy and tender and the [insert your guess here] in the other packets was fabulous!

Lamb Shoulder Chop Packets

4 Lamb shoulder chops
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 large red onion, roughly chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Put all ingredients together in a bag or container with a lid and marinate for at least one hour and up to one day.

2. Place the meat onto large rectangles of foil (2 per packet) arrange the vegetables on top of them and pour the remaining marinade over the chops. Seal the packets.

3. Barbeque over indirect heat for about 1 hour (alternate: you can put the packets in a 300°F over for about 1.5 hours)

4. After an hour open the packet and take a look, chances are it will look and smell so good, you will eat it then even if it could use a few more minutes!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Zucchini Rolls with Salmon and Cream Cheese

I made these Zucchini Rolls for my Dad's 65th birthday barbeque. Everyone loved them. I got this recipe from The Culinary Chase. I have to admit when I first saw this recipe on Heather's blog, I was mad.... mad that I didn't come up with the idea first!! It was so simple and refreshing and original.

The recipe calls for smoked salmon cream cheese, but I used regular. I only made the change because I already had 2 tubs of regular light cream cheese in the fridge. I found that you have to slice the zucchini very thin to make sure that it stays wrapped around the filling. I have two vegetable peelers and one wouldn't cut the slices thin enough. I doubled this recipe and got about 50 appetizers.

On a totally unrelated side note, last night was our night to go out and play Ultimate Frisbee so for dinner I made chicken nuggets and fries for the kids (the frozen kind). They were unduly excited. I set their plates down in front of them and Marco, who's 4, is just sitting there politely...waiting. I say "it's OK Sweetie, you don't have to wait for me to sit down, I'm not eating tonight"... he says "but you gotta take pictures!". Cute.

Zucchini Rolls with Salmon and Cream Cheese

185g smoked salmon (flaked with a fork)
226g smoked salmon cream cheese (I used regular)
1 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
small bunch of chives, chopped
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
extra virgin olive oil
1 zucchini (about 8 inches long) cut in half

1. Slice zucchini into very thin slices with a vegetable peeler. Lay out on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Let sit for 5 minutes.

2. Mix smoked salmon, cream cheese, garlic and chives (reserve a small amount of the smoked salmon to use as garnish).

3. Place a spoonful of filling at one end of each zucchini slice and roll up. They should stay closed without a toothpick. Garnish with extra smoke salmon. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Update: Vote for Mario's Father's Day dinner in the sidebar, and I will post the recipes next week. (Mario you can only vote once!)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Fig and Cheese Phyllo Triangles

A little while ago, one of my readers, Lisa from Lisa B in da City, left the following comment on my Dark Chocolate Souffle post...."Are you up for a challenge? I'm looking for a low carb, low sugar, lowfat dessert. With no berries."

Well Lisa, I have never been able to turn down a challenge.... and YES, that has gotten me into some pretty hot water in the past! (especially if I've been drinking, but luckily for all my cohorts in crime, this isn't a "bare your soul" sort of blog!)

This recipe for Fig and Cheese Phyllo Triangles, meets Lisa's criteria. There are approximately 100 calories, 2g fat, and 20g carbs per turnover (we each ate 2 for dessert).

These were delicious and quite sweet. When I make them again, I will try cutting down the sugar by half. I would still sprinkle the sugar between the layers of the phyllo, but I would leave it out of the filling completely because the figs and fruit juice concentrate should be sweet enough on their own.

Anybody else have a request? Bring it on!

Fig and Cheese Phyllo Triangles

1/3 cup dried figs, finely chopped
3 tbsp frozen fruit juice concentrate
1/3 tsp cinnamon
2 oz low fat cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp egg substitute
6 sheets phyllo pastry
cooking spray
1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
powdered sugar

1. Combine chopped up figs with frozen juice and cinnamon. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.

2. In a medium bowl beat together the cream cheese, egg substitute and 2 tbsp of sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the figs.

3. On a large surface layout one sheet of phyllo pastry. Spray it with cooking spray and sprinkle with 1 tsp of sugar and 2 tsp of graham crumbs. Repeat with two more sheets of pastry. Cut the large rectangle horizontally into six strips. Place a mounded tablespoon of filling at the bottom of each strip and fold them up into triangles.

4. Repeat with the remaining three sheets of phyllo pastry.

5. Spray outside of triangles lightly with cooking spray and bake at 375°F for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

6. Sprinkle with icing sugar.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Filet Mignon with Rosemary and Port Reduction

Here is another barbequed steak recipe. I have lots of these in my repertoire mainly because Mario loves to eat a lot of steak in the summer. He would be happy to just shake some Montreal Steak Spice on them every time, but I'm thinking my blog might get a little boring... Hey look, Janet just posted another recipe for Filet Mignon with Montreal Steak Spice....spread the word!

We usually buy a really big beef tenderloin for around $100 and then slice it into steaks and freeze them. This will usually yield about 16-20 steaks... more than enough to get us through the week (kidding!).

One other thing I wanted to point out is that this recipe uses, not just fresh rosemary, but rosemary I grew myself! OK, not really, but I BOUGHT a rosemary plant three weeks ago and haven't killed it yet, which counts as growing it myself, right?

Truly, I don't have a green thumb... we went on vacation this winter and I left our house keys with a friend to water our plants and stuff. He e-mailed on the first day, "uh, Janet, your plants are already dead"..."oh. Yeah well great job! Last time I trust YOU with my precious plants! Geesh" (I'm not letting him near my rosemary).

Filet Mignon with Rosemary and Port Reduction

4 beef tenderloin steaks
2 cloves garlic, halved
salt and pepper
1/2 cup Port
1/2 cup beef broth
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp butter

1. Rub cut garlic over both sides of steaks and season with salt and pepper.

2. Grill steak over direct heat until desired doneness.

3. While steak is grilling, bring Port, broth and rosemary to a boil in a small saucepan. Boil until reduced to about 1/3 cup. (You can make the sauce ahead and reheat it just before the steaks are ready).

4. Stir butter into sauce and serve over steaks.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


This is one of my Mom's recipe's. Our family has always eaten bruschetta often in the summertime. When I was young, that would consist of thick slices of crusty bread toasted on the Barbeque. My Dad would bring the hot grilled bread to the table and we would each rub our bread with a clove of garlic, drizzle it with olive oil, and then season it with freshly ground pepper. Hmmm, I ought to make it that way again sometime, because ever since my Mom discovered bruschetta with tomatoes, we've been having it this way.

This is really best with fresh tomatoes from your garden, or somebody else's garden, if you can't grow anything like me. Claire doesn't like tomatoes, so we just put some juice from the bowl of tomatoes and some Parmesan Cheese on hers. Marco usually loves tomatoes, but when he saw how Claire was eating hers, he brushed all his tomatoes off onto the floor... HELLO! Then I wouldn't let him go out to play until he had cleaned it all up... he was crying, "I'm too little to clean", it was quite the ordeal.


6 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp lime juice
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped (or 2 tsp dried)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 loaf crusty Italian bread
freshly grated Parmesan

1. Mix first 8 ingredients.

2. Serve on grilled crusty Italian bread with lots of fresh Parmesan.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Berry and Yoghurt Parfait

Prince Harry is in love with me.

That's right! This past week I was in Calgary for work. Some friends and I visited a local bar called Cowboys, we had a blast and danced the night away. The next night, Thursday, we decided to go back again. We walked in and the crowd just felt completely different. There didn't seem to be a person in there over about 18, and we could barely move, let alone get on the dance floor. Compared to the other girls in the bar, I felt completely over-dressed (and by that I meant, I was wearing clothes).

We ended up having one drink and then moving on to another bar. The next morning we woke up to the news that Prince Harry had been at Cowboys the night before! Crap, I can't believe I didn't see him! I decided it was close enough, so for the rest of the week, I've been telling people that I met Prince Harry and he wanted to whisk me away in his private jet. But I had to say no, because I was only in Calgary for a few days, and I had yet to fulfill my lifelong dream of riding a mechanical bull.

Since I was away, I have very nearly worked through my entire backlog of draft posts, and believe it or not I have very little to post this morning. This Berry and Yoghurt Parfait was something that I must have made and took pictures of more than a month ago, but never posted, because I wasn't sure it was 'blog worthy'. So I hope everyone will give me a one day break, while I reaquaint myself with my kitchen.

I'm not sure you can really even call this a recipe.... its more like "assembly instructions". I did make my own granola topping, but often I just use store bought granola. This also makes a great breakfast.

Berry and Yoghurt Parfait

1 pint fresh berries (I used blueberries and blackberries)
500ml container of vanilla yoghurt (fat free, if you like)

Granola topping:
1 cup old fashioned oats
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp oil

1. Mix ingredients for granola topping and spread on cookie sheet. Bake at 300°F for 30-40 minutes until golden brown (stir every 10 minutes).

2. Layer berries and yoghurt in a parfait glass.

3. Top with granola.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Italian Sausage with Whole Wheat Penne

I hate to admit this, but sometimes in the winter we make this meal once a week! And since we can't go the entire summer without having it at least a few times, I save it for rainy days. It is just so good and so easy to make. You don't even have to remember to take the sausages out of the freezer in the morning because they slice easier when they are mostly frozen. You can add whatever vegetables you like - we usually stick with mushrooms, onion, green pepper. When I have them, I love to add canned artichoke hearts. The general rule to follow is about equal parts meat and veggies.

Italian Sausage with Whole Wheat Penne

1 package hot Italian sausages (5-6 sausages)
1 green pepper, chopped
1 onion chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
freshly ground pepper
2 cups whole wheat penne
freshly grated Parmesan

1. Slice Italian sausages into 1/4" slices. Brown in a skillet and drain fat.

2. Add green pepper, onion and mushroom. Sauté until cooked.

3. Add canned tomatoes and freshly ground pepper. If you are using spicy Italian sausages I fund that no other seasoning is necessary, but if you prefer mild you may want to add a tsp of some Italian seasoning (oregano, basil etc).

4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta. Continue to simmer sausage mixture while pasta cooks.

5. Here is where you have a choice: you can serve the sausage mixture OVER the pasta, or mix it all together in the skillet (always prefer the later). Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan and serve with salad.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Chicken and Bacon Sandwich with Cranberry Mayo

This isn't really anything spectacular, it is quite frankly just a sandwich. I have always adored sandwiches, preferably with loads of mayo, cheese, tomato, lettuce and real meat (e.g. slices of actual roast chicken or beef rather than slimy deli meats).

Making sandwiches is a very personal thing, I would never ever let Mario make a sandwich for me. He would do something wrong for sure (not that he isn't capable, he is a civil engineer so he could probably assemble a sandwich, just not one to my liking). Strangely, Mario has no problems letting me make sandwiches for him, but I think this is more a factor of laziness than anything else. I do notice that on those occasions where I put all the sandwich fillings and bread and condiments out on the table for a "make your own sandwich" sort of meal, Mario's format differs significantly from mine.

The only other person who can make a sandwich just right is my Mom.

Chicken and Bacon Sandwich with Cranberry Mayo
makes 2 sandwiches

4 slices of walnut bread (or any nice multigrain bread)
2 slices swiss cheese
3 slices of cooked bacon, cut in half
1 tomato, sliced
1 cooked chicken breast, sliced

Cranberry Mayo:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp cranberry sauce

1. Mix together the cranberry sauce and the mayonnaise. I prefer the smooth cranberry sauce, but the sauce with whole cranberries would work also.

2. Spread cranberry mayo on each of the four slices of bread. On two of the slices place chicken breast, 3 half strip on bacon, swiss cheese, lettuce and tomato. Close the sandwich and slice.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Chili Cumin Pork Tenderloin

We eat a lot of pork tenderloin, especially in BBQ season. It is lean and healthy. It is quick to cook, even on a weeknight. You can buy them in packs of three, and one tenderloin is still enough to feed our whole family.

I tend to switch up what I do with the pork a lot. I've never really settled on one or two favorite recipes. I'm always looking for something we haven't tried that is tasty, doesn't have too much added fat and will keep the pork nice and moist.

This is a dry spice rub that I tried out for the first time on the BBQ. It had a nice flavour. We had leftover pork and made pork sandwiches the next day for lunch, but I didn't really enjoy the flavour of these spices in a sandwich too much.

Chili Cumin Pork Tenderloin

1 Tbsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt

1. Mix spices together and rub generously all over pork.

2. Let the pork sit for about 30 minutes.

3. Grill pork on BBQ for 20-25 minutes, or until desired doneness.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Banana and Raspberry Muffins

Yes, I know... these are just plain old banana muffins, and I'm sure everyone already has a favorite banana muffin recipe, and you really don't need to see mine. But I think these ones are worth a try. Hey, I might even convert a few people to MY banana muffin recipe. What makes these ones so good is the raspberries. The tartness of the raspberries with the sweet banana is truly heavenly. Served warm with butter.... oh gosh, I'll be right back....

Claire will only eat these muffins if they also have chocolate chips in them. That doesn't really make sense to me, if you like Banana Raspberry muffins WITH chocolate chips, shouldn't you also like them without? Who knows. We're having a bit of a stand-off, I'm not putting anymore chocolate chips in these muffins. Stay tuned to see who cracks first.

Banana Raspberry Muffing (without Chocolate Chips)
makes 12 good size muffins

2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup oil
1 medium ripe banana, mashed
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup raspberries fresh or frozen (I don't waste fresh on muffins!)

1. Mix flour baking powder, sugar, and salt.

2. Mix milk, oil, banana, egg and vanilla.

3. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Don't overstir.

4. Stir in raspberries. Spoon into greased muffin tin.

5. Bake 20-25 minutes at 375°F.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Omm Ali

Omm Ali.... I think maybe I should change the name of this recipe to "Omm..my God, Janet just make another bread pudding!". As any regular reader of this blog would already know, I have a bit of an obsession with bread puddings. But I think I may have finally found the cure, it is the bread pudding to end ALL bread puddings. The king of bread pudding. No, the Pharoah of bread pudding. I'm not sure I will ever post another Bread Pudding, because I just don't think this one can be topped.

Omm Ali is an Egyptian Bread Pudding, I saw this recipe in a Mediterranean Cookbook and I knew it was going to be good. I'd never heard of this dish before, but it was absolutely fabulous. I can never make a recipe without messing with it a little, the only thing I changed in this one was to add 1/4 cup of sugar. The original recipe didn't call for any sugar, and I thought it could use some. I was also supposed to sprinkle cinnamon over the top of the dessert for decoration, but I was in such a frenzy to take my pictures and sink my teeth into this that I forgot.

This dessert was really so wonderful, I decided to send it over to Meeta for her birthday. This month Meeta, from What's for Lunch Honey? is hosting the Monthly Mingle and she tied the theme in with her birthday.

Omm Ali
adapted from "Mediterranean Food of the Sun" by Jacqueline Clark and Joanna Farrow.

10 sheets filo pastry
2 1/2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp rose water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped pistachios
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
1/2 cup chopped almonds
2/3 cup raisins
1 tbsp ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Stack the sheets of filo on two baking sheets and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and crisp.

2. Mix the three types of nuts and raising together.

3. Crumble the filo pastry roughly and spread in layers with the nut mixture in a shallow casserole dish (I used a 2.8 litre oval dish and make 4 layers of crumbled filo and three layers of nuts).

4. Heat milk and cream in a saucepan until very hot, but not boiling. Slowly add the beaten egg and the rose water. Cook over low heat until the mixture begins to thicken. (it didn't really thicken much for me, but it didn't seem to matter) Stir in 1.4 cup sugar.

5. Pour the custard mixture over the crumbled pastry and nuts. Bake for 20 minutes at 400°F until golden. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Related Posts:
Individual Bread Puddings
Toasted Waffle Pudding
Chocolate, Raspberry and Banana Bread Pudding