Xmas Dinner 2013

Xmas dinner 2013 was had on December 24rd with my “adopted” family the McBurney clan which includes Jay and Jonathan, with Meg and Rob and the Matriarch of the family Marg and Bob – plus all the kids…

This year we had it at Jay and Jonathan’s. Jonathan is a fabulous cook so you know the meal will be wonderful when you walk in the door and start smelling the aromas of Xmas cooking.

Jonathan kindly lets me help out cooking a few things as we do love to talk food and cooking ideas. His turkey this year (as every year) was delicious and moist and devoured!

The potato galette which is a specialty of his is out of this world.  He slices the potatoes with a mandolin and layers them in the pinwheel shape you see here. He adds emmental cheese to each layer and finishes with stilton on top.  Lactose intolerance be damned – I dug into those potatoes!

The squash was slow roasted for three hours giving it the sweetest caramelized flavour ever.

I got to make the brussels sprouts which we just par boiled then sautéed with butter and topped with sautéed  crispy chopped  sage leaves and shredded parmesan cheese.

The stuffing, wine but especially the company was outstanding and I have to say when I awoke the next morning I think I was still full of good feelings, food and memories of another great Xmas spent with wonderful people.

potato galette

potato galette 2

Turkey

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Brussels sprouts

Friday Night Dinner With Old Friends

I may have mentioned in previous posts about my friend Fern who is my oldest friend (not in age but in years we’ve known each other 😉 )

Last Friday I went over to Ferns in the afternoon so we could cook a nice dinner together for Friday evening.  Her dad, husband Ian one of her sons Chase along with another old friend (again not in age but years known) Liz all came for dinner.

I went over about 2:00 in the afternoon so we could take our time and hang out.  We made the honey sesame chicken recipe I have posted before on brown rice along with brussel sprouts seared with chestnuts and bacon pieces and a great salad.

There is a small story behind the brown rice I have to admit.  I am not good at making rice.  I do not have a rice cooker and my rice always comes out a bit mushy or wet even though I follow the guidelines exactly.  This time Fern gave me a box of Uncle Bens converted brown rice.  How could I go wrong? Well I started following the instructions for something else on the box and in my defence there were about 3 different methods of cooking the darn rice.  I added way too much water and thankfully Fern came to the rescue and dumped half the water mid way and saved the rice from being porridge. I don’t think I will ever live that down as the whole time we were cooking (and drinking wine) I kept saying “I don’t think this rice is right”

We lucked out since Ian (Ferns husband) just bought a restaurant downtown that serves fabulous cheesecake so he brought home a great assortment for us to choose from along with a great chocolate “babka” cake Liz brought.

When all was said and done, it was a really great day and a lovely evening with old friends and great food.

salad

 infamous rice
chicken and sprouts
chicken on rice
Couldn’t resist this picture too – When I got up to bring something to the table and came back to sit down – this little girl was in my seat – think she wanted to join the fun! She was quickly shoo’d off the chair but what a face!!!!
dog

Chicken and Pasta Prima Vera

This recipe started out as pasta prima vera but I thought “why not add some protein to it”? Turned out to be quite yummy and when a group of friends wound up back at my house all hungry I happened to have a big bowl left over from a food order I had just filled so was able to get everyone fed and happy in a very short period of time.

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Ingredients – serves 6-8:

Olive oil – enough to sauté vegetables

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into small bite size pieces

4 cloves minced garlic

1 red and 1 yellow  pepper cut into thin strips

2 large handfuls of chopped raw kale

2 cups sliced mushrooms

1 cup grape tomatoes cut in half

1.5 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 cup fat free evaporated milk

2 tablespoon all-purpose flour, dissolved in 6 tablespoons water

Pepper to taste

1 large carrot peeled and sliced into strips with a peeler

Fettucini or linguini – enough for 6-8 people

3/4 – 1 cup grated Parmesan

A large handful of fresh parsley leaves chopped

1/4 – 1/2 cup shredded fresh basil leaves

Salt to taste if you want to (I don’t usually cook with salt)

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add peppers and cook until they begin to soften, about 2-3 minutes. Add garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes and kale and cook until softened about another 4-5 minutes. Add carrots and stir into other vegetables. Stir in flour/water combination and mix throughly with vegetables. Add stock, evaporated milk and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook until liquid has thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. If liquid does not thicken enough add another tsp of flour and water mixture and stir through.

While the vegetables are cooking, bring water to a boil for the pasta. Cook pasta until it is al dente. Drain pasta and combine and toss  with vegetables and sauce. Serve garnished with Parmesan, parsley and basil.

Note: sauce thickens even more by the next day.

Sweet and Spicy Stir Fry Chicken with Eggplant and Broccoli

That is a very long title I realize….But it is accurate.  I found a sauce at the grocery store that was a sweet and spicy chilli sauce.  I thought it might work well on a stir fry so I bought it.  I am doing a lot of cooking this month for a friend of mine so I figured this is a good time to experiment with some dishes to add to my menu lists. This week was the chicken in this recipe, pasta prima vera with chicken and quinoa with roasted vegetables. Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks for the other recipes 😉

spicey sweet chicken

This was pretty easy to make and didn’t take much time at all. For my friends version I am providing brown rice to go with it but for myself I thought I would have it on it’s own.

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients – serves  2

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut in cubes

1/4 cup of sweet and spice chilli sauce (if it says sweet on the label of the chilli sauce then it is most likely sweet and spicy) plus a small reserve amount for broccoli and eggplant

1 japanese eggplant cut in 1/2 inch slices round

2 cups of broccoli florets

1 tsp of canola oil for frying

Directions:

Pour 1/4 cup of sauce over cubed chicken pieces and marinate for about 15 minutes (can be longer). Stir fry the chicken till cooked and put aside when done.

Add a bit of oil to the pan and put the slices of eggplant one side face down and brown slightly. Then flip over and brown the other side.  Remove and set aside. Steam the broccoli in the microwave for about 3 minutes, drain and put in the pan to sauté slightly. Add the eggplant back in and drizzle a bit of sauce over the vegetables and stir fry for a minute or two.  Take off the heat and arrange on a plate any way you like.  You can put rice down first, then mix the chicken and vegetables together or separate them as I have done in the picture.  Any way works!

Enjoy

Shrimp and Kale on Pasta (Gluten Free)

Many of you that read this blog know that I like to use up whatever is in the fridge when I can. I had recently bought a big batch of kale as it looked so fresh. It had been a while since I had shrimp and pasta so I thought I would mix it up with the kale – how could it be bad? I also had some mediterranean black olives which I thought would give a nice saltiness to the dish.

Below is the recipe – it lasted me for three meals which in my book is a good use of leftovers. By the way – it tasted good too!

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Ingredients:

1 package of GOGO Quinoa pasta (I like this type of gluten free pasta) – penne style noodle

10 shrimp (frozen tail on)

1 bunch of kale with the stem and core trimmed off and the leaves chopped

10-15 black olives broken in half to take out the pit (easier to buy pitted)

2 tsp chopped garlic

Olive oil to sauté kale and shrimp

Directions:

Add contents of the pasta to a pot of boiling water.  Boil until softened (takes a bit longer than regular pasta).  When it is finished the water is quite starchy so I tend to rinse the pasta under water for a minute.

Add oil to a pan and put chopped kale till you have filled the pan.  Start to sauté the kale in a covered pan so the steam will help to soften it.  I also added about 1/2 cup of water in small amounts to aid in the steaming and sautéing process.  When the kale is wilted slightly add the chopped garlic and the black olives and mix – continue to steam/sauté until the kale is fairly soft.

When the kale is almost ready – throw in the raw shrimp, mix with the kale and garlic and cook until the shrimp curls and turns pink on both sides.

Add in the pasta and mix everything together.  Heat through and serve with crusty bread and grated parmesan cheese.

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!

Leftover Brisket with Friends

As many of you who read this blog will have figured out by now, I love sharing food with friends.  It is one of my favourite things to do.

This time the sharing took place with my friends and neighbours just a couple of doors over. Zannat (who writes a great blog I follow “food 4 happiness“), made steamed collard greens with garlic – of course anything made with garlic in my books has to be good. I brought over leftover BBQ brisket and sweet potato and cauliflower mash.  The great thing about brisket is, it is always better the next day or even two days after. Below is how I made the potato mash.  See the beef brisket link above for the brisket recipe.

brisket

Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Mash – perfect comfort food

1 potato per person

1 handful of cauliflower pieces per person

Boil or steam both the above ingredients till soft enough to mash (you may need to drain them well so mash is not too watery)

Combine both in a bowl and add a spoonful or two of yogurt and a handful of grated old cheddar cheese (yes that is the secret ingredient!)

I use a hand mixer to really blend the ingredients well. Mix till fluffy and there are no lumps.

Serve and enjoy!

Shrimp and Kale

It was another night where I wanted to use up ingredients in the fridge but still make something interesting.  I always keep shrimp in the freezer because they can turn any meal into something a little more special.  Tonight I decided to use up a batch of kale I had in the fridge and a yellow pepper and some feta cheese.  Here goes:

shrimp and kale

This dish took about 20-30 minutes in total.

Ingredients: Serves 2-3

1 leek (white part only) sliced

1 bunch of kale chopped finely

1 pepper (any colour will do)

2 garlic cloves minced

10-15 shrimp (medium sized)

1 – 14 oz can finely diced tomatoes (you can chop about 4 roma tomatoes instead of using canned if you like)

Feta cheese for sprinkling over top

Directions

Sauté leeks and chopped pepper till soft (I add a small amount of brown sugar to help brown them a bit and to make the tomato flavour a bit less acidic.) Add chopped garlic when leeks are soft and sauté together for a minute or two.  Then add tomatoes and chopped kale and mix till the kale begins to soften.  Once the kale is soft add the shrimp and mix thoroughly. Cover and let it finish cooking for about 3-4 minutes.

Put in a plate and sprinkle with some feta cheese and serve.

Frittata Breakfast in Collingwood Ontario

I spent a wonderful weekend in Collingwood Ontario at my friends Susan and Todd’s place. It just happened to be the worlds largest Elvis festival that weekend so we had lots of fun wondering around seeing the Elvis impersonators in between bike riding and hot tubbing – oh yes, and eating…..

This was Sunday morning breakfast made up from whatever we found in the fridge.  Frittata and grapefruit.  Turned out well.

frittata

Frittata

Ingredients (anything we could find in fridge)

Salami chopped (can use any meat or none at all)

4 eggs and 4 egg whites

Broccoli chopped

Sautéed onion (1/4 of an onion)

1/2 Chopped red pepper

 

Directions

Chop all ingredients into small pieces, sauté in a large frying pan (coat pan in oil or PAM). Whisk eggs together and pour over sautéed ingredients. When bottom is slightly hardened put in a 375 degree oven till top is cooked.  About 10 minutes.

That’s it – serve with fruit and toast and you have a yummy Sunday breakfast!

Kale and Mint Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing

Here is an interesting recipe I came across from a blog/website called FOOD52.  They have some great stuff on this site.  I plan on trying it on the weekend possibly. (photo by James Ransom). I think the mint would be a great addition giving it a very “spring” feel.

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http://food52.com/recipes/18080-lacinato-kale-and-mint-salad-with-spicy-peanut-dressing?utm_source=FOOD52+Subscribers+List&utm_campaign=894e36be6a-midweek6_5_136_4_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_191568346e-894e36be6a-19304689