Chicks in Charge Retreat

I just love that name!  We just had our annual Chicks in Charge (women running their own businesses) retreat at Sheryls country home.  I always come back exhausted, stuffed with good food, invigorated and enlightened! This year was no exception.  Food always seems to be the key to getting everyone connecting – we eat like royalty when we are there starting with Sheryls initial lunch which was once again outstanding.

We had poached salmon, roasted green beans, mushrooms, walnuts and baby potatoes, pesto marinated tiny heirloom tomatoes and a kale and mango salad. That was just lunch!

poahed salmon

Kale salad

roast veg

tomatoes

Snack time (as though we needed more food….) Amy made an incredible flourless, sugarless chocolate cake (sugar was in the chocolate only – it was divine).

cake

Dinner was my turkey chilli (click for link to recipe) with toppings that included guacamole, shredded old cheddar cheese and low fat sour cream along side a great mixed green salad and home baked oatmeal cookies made by Victoria.

Breakfast the next day was a fabulous frittata with peppers, onion, mushrooms and zucchini (I forgot to take pictures again – forgive me,  we just dove into the meal) made by Nancy. We also had Eloise’s home made granola (click for recipe) and yogurt along with regular and gluten free muffins.

Lunch was leftovers of the day before but the main course was Mariannes fabulous coconut curry chicken – so so good. Below is the recipe. Well worth trying it was devoured by the chicks.

Coconut Curry Chicken

I usually DOUBLE this recipe, and freeze the extra portions.  Can be served hot or cold.

Ingredients                                                                           Substitute

¼ cup coconut oil                                                                Canola oil

¼ cup (or less) Dijon mustard

2 tbsps.  regular mustard (e.g., French’s)

½ cup coconut nectar                                                        Honey

½ tbsp. or more Curry Powder

1 tsp.  lime juice AND grated rind

1 tsp. salt

Garlic

1-1.5 lbs. boneless chicken thighs (~12)                        Boneless chicken breasts,                                                                                                             sliced

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a stainless steel saucepan.  Pour over chicken.  Cook for 45 mins. at 350 degrees.   Enjoy!

Believe it or not, we also managed to have a great guest speaker (Wendy) and business and life discussions from morning till night and then again the next day.  Now you understand why we leave feeling exhausted, stuffed with good food, invigorated and enlightened!

Till next year!

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100 Mile Cassoulet Meal in the Country

I spent the other weekend at my friend Victoria’s place in the country.  It was a wonderful weekend full of art shows and country town drives.  We hit the farmers market on Saturday morning to get ingredients for dinner that night, still not totally sure what we were going to make but wanting to be inspired by the local produce.  We decided on a version of a cassoulet.  I had brought up smoked turkey and smoked chicken sausages from my local butcher shop that were already cooked but just needed a bit of grilling to brown them.  It was so delicious!!!!!

We got two meals for us and then another three meals to freeze out of the recipe which when we worked it out came to about $2.50 – $3.00 per serving at the most.  Full of great vegetables and flavours.  (As an aside – I added leftover cooked quinoa with vegetables to a serving I brought home and it was great).

Victoria also made a Caprese style salad on skewers for us – it was so good and so unusual. The secret is to soak the cubes of mozzarella cheese in balsamic vinegar for several minutes or longer before putting on the skewer. The cheese along with fresh basil from the garden and small grape tomatoes from the garden made for a wonder “salad”

Caprese salad sticks

Cassoulet 1

Casoulette 2

Ingredients:

1 onion

1 leek

2 medium carrots sliced

2 celery stalks sliced

2 garlic cloves – minced or chopped

1 can white kidney beans

2 bay leaves

1 large red pepper

1 small can diced tomatoes (we used Victorias homemade roasted tomatoes which gave an even smokier flavour)

Pepper to taste

2 large cooked smoked sausages (turkey or chicken) sliced (1/4″ thick max.)

3 cups chicken or vegetable broth

8-10 large mushroom (large pieces)

Pinch of cumin

1-2 tsp of chilli garlic hot sauce – quantity depends on how spicy you like your food)

Parmesan cheese to top it with

Directions:

Sauté onions and leeks. Add all ingredients and simmer for 1 hour. When you plate it – add some grated or shredded parmesan cheese to the top and serve with a baguette to absorb any liquid

Serves 6

Chunky Chicken and Vegetable Stew

This is one of those meals that you make with whatever vegetables you have sitting in your fridge and don’t want to have to throw away in a few days. I made it for a bunch of people so my recipe is for 8. Cut it accordingly to suit however many people you want to feed. It also freezes well.

chicken stew

chicken stew in bowl

Ingredients

8 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I would have used chicken thighs too but my company doesn’t like dark meat)

1 butternut or acorn squash (can likely use any squash you like)

3 carrots – large dice (1” pieces)

3 parsnips – large dice (1” pieces)

Green beans – cut into 1.5” pieces (use as many as you like)

2 red peppers – large dice (1” pieces)

2 large onions large chop (big pieces)

Mushrooms – as many as you like – I used large button mushrooms and cut them in half so I had large pieces.

3 tbsp hoisin sauce

4 tbsp dijon mustard

1/2 cup orange juice

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 tsp dried oregano

Pinch of cumin

Pinch of cardamom

Pinch of chili powder

1 large can chick peas (just because I love to add chickpeas to everything!)

1 small can of corn niblets

1 large can diced tomatoes

Directions

Season raw chicken with just pepper (many of the ingredients have some salt in them so no need to add). Cut chicken into pieces about 1”. Pour a bit of hoisin sauce over and mix up a bit. Do not use too much sauce as it doesn’t take much to flavour the chicken. Maybe 1.5 tsp per 4 chicken breasts. Saute the diced chicken until slightly browned (the hoisin helps with the browning). Put into slow cooker.

Take onions that have been chopped in large chunks and saute in the same pan as the chicken till lightly browned. The onions will clean up the bits lefts by the chicken which adds flavour. Put the onions into the slow cooker. Saute the mushrooms in the same pan (add a touch of olive oil if you need to) and then put them in the slow cooker too. Next, throw in the carrots, squash and parsnips and saute lightly until you see a few browned edges (doesn’t have to be much). Add to the slow cooker. Now add the chick peas, corn and diced tomatoes along with the mustard, brown sugar and the spices and orange juice to the slow cooker and mix everything together. Turn slow cooker to low for 3.5 hours.

Once the stew has cooked for 3.5 hours, add the green beans and red peppers and cook on low for another hour as these items do not take as long to soften and cook. You can saute them first if you like for a bit of added flavour but not really necessary. Serve over brown rice or pasta or quinoa (something to soak up the juice). I add a bit of grated parmesan on top.