Stuffed Spaghetti Squash for Dinner with a Friend

Went skiing last week for a couple of days and visited with my friend Victoria (you remember her – she’s the one who I talk with about solving all the world’s problems ūüėČ ). This time we planned out each others complete¬†financial retirement plan. ¬†The good news is neither of us will be eating cat food when we are old! ¬†Yeah!

I was supposed to only be there for 2.5 days but we had a huge snow fall and I didn’t want to drive home till the roads had been cleared so I got to stay an extra day. Was a real bonus day as we got to just hang out and play games, read and talk. Oh yes and the other thing we always do when we get together…..Cook!.

I blogged my friend Zannats spaghetti squash recipe a couple of weeks ago and we thought we would make a version of it for dinner one night. Here’s what we added and how it was prepared (using ingredients already in the fridge) – Healthy, satisfying and tastes great – the trifecta!

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Ingredients:

1 spaghetti squash cut in half

1 chicken sausage removed from casing and crumbled (can leave this out to keep vegetarian)

6-8 mushrooms chopped

¬Ĺ chopped red pepper

1 can of white kidney or navy beans

¬Ĺ tsp Italian spices

Parmesan cheese grated

Mozzarella shredded

1 tomato diced

Directions:

Trim the ends off the squash first, then cut squash in ¬Ĺ and take out the stringy centre. Coat lightly with some olive oil and place cut side down on a tray covered with parchment paper and bake at 350 degrees F for about an hour till slightly browned and fairly soft.

Using a fork, scoop some of the squash out to make room for the mixture (should scoop¬†out like strands – hence the name “spaghetti” squash). Add the strands of squash to¬†the bean and chicken mixture along with some grated or shredded Parmesan. Mix well and pack¬†into the ¬†semi hollowed out¬†halves of¬†squash shell and top with mozzarella. Put back into a 350 degree (F) oven till cheese¬†is melted and lightly browned.

Enjoy!

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Cooking with friends

Recently I was visiting my friend Victoria in the Peterborough area and we always get into cooking when I go to spend a couple of days there (We also talk about financial ideas, the economy, the psychology of people Рgreat brain work out). Anyway, we decided to do a combo dinner where I would bring the soup and she would make the salad. I made my homemade vegetable soup with beans sprinkled with grated parmesan cheese- recipe below.

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…and Victoria made a wonderful spinach, pear and caramelized walnut salad. ¬†Perfect dinner. The salad was from the cookbook called “The Pollan Family Table” by none other that Tracey Pollan (remember her – married to Michael J. Fox and starred in Family Ties? – click on link above for recipe).

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Vegetable soup recipe:

Talk about hearty! I used the vegetables that were in the fridge and usually I add some pasta to this soup but thought I would add white beans to give it more protein and fibre.

Ingredients

1 tbsp of olive oil

2 sliced medium sized carrots

2 sliced stalks of celery

2 small onions chopped

1 tetra pak of vegetable broth

1 large can of low sodium diced tomatoes

1 can of navy white beans

1.5 tbsp brown sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

1 handful of chopped kale (I buy a fabulous product called “Chopped Greens” which is a bag of frozen chopped and cooked kale. ¬†I add it to everything and it is wonderful! – use as much as you want)

 

Directions

In a saucepan add the olive oil and the diced onions. Stir till translucent. Add the chopped carrots and celery and sauté for about 3 minutes. Then add the diced tomatoes. Stir well and then add the vegetable stock. Add some salt and pepper to taste.

Stir this and let it simmer for about 15 – 20 minutes. Then add the kale (since it is already cooked it doesn’t need as long). Cook for another 15-20 minutes and then add the canned beans. Sprinkle in the brown sugar (takes some of the acidity out of the tomatoes and adds a slightly sweet note to the soup). Let this simmer all together for another 10-15 minutes and you have a wonderful hearty soup.

I served it with some shaved parmesan on top and it was perfectly filling and warming. Just what you need on these cold cold days.

 

Breakfast the next day was one of my favourites.

I have developed a craving for poached eggs. I always loved them but used to make egg whites for breakfast every morning. Now I make a poached egg on a slice of toast with a bit of cheese as my go to brekkie every day.  The whole egg has all kinds of things that are good for you and if cholesterol is not an issue then I say go for it.  Keeps me feeling satiated until lunch. This time we shared an english muffin (whole wheat) and I used some baldersons 4yr old white cheddar cheese with a couple of slices of avocado. YUM!!!

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Cheese, Arugula, Prosciutto and Chicken Pizza

I had a craving for arugula and prosciutto pizza. Mostly because I had the ingredients and I love the taste of arugula. Originally this was to just be cheese, arugula and prosciutto but I had a couple of chicken breasts that needed to be cooked so I just baked them and sliced part of one for the pizza (The rest will be left overs).

I have also made this as an appetizer without the chicken and cut into small pieces.  Pretty yummy РI used a creamier cheese for that evening (Port Salut).

This was so easy to make and 20 minutes in the toaster oven and I got two meals out of it. (Dinner and lunch the next day).

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Here is the process I followed:

1 stone baked crust (store bought – so many types – just pick one you like or by all means make your own!)

I only had old cheddar cheese on hand so I used that and just cut thin slices to basically cover the base of the crust

A large handful of baby arugula (looks so pretty) spread over the cheese

3 pieces of prosciutto torn apart and scattered over the top. ¬†This alone makes a delicious pizza but I had the chicken so…

Thin slices of chicken breast cooked to cover the top of the pizza

Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes until the crust gets a bit crispy (I cooked it in a toaster oven)

Enjoy!

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Breakfast Pizza

Okay so it’s really an omelette but in my mind I was putting it together like a pizza so work with me on this…

I chopped up half a zucchini and a large handful of mushrooms and sautéd them in a small frying pan. Then I poured 2 beaten eggs with a drop of vanilla thrown in (adds a neat very subtle flavour). I then aded a few halved grape tomatoes. I cooked this up like an omelette and covered it. (You can also put the pan in the oven and cook it that way but for a small omelette it seemed like overkill in a big oven. Covering it worked fine).

When the top was pretty much cooked I used two spatulas to flip it and put some grated old cheddar cheese on top and slid it onto a plate. Then I added some slice avocado on top.  The heat from the eggs finished melting the cheese which held the avocado in place and within about 7 minutes I had a delicious breakfast. You could make this for dinner too and add different ingredients like sliced meat, onion, mushroom in larger slices etc Рanything that you might put on a pizza could work here. For my meal, I served it with a bit of hot sauce just to kick it up a notch.

This would be fun to make with kids and let them put different toppings on it just like a pizza.  Great way to get kids to eat a good breakfast!

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Chicken Wrapped Asparagus

The other day I was rummaging around my freezer figuring out what to make for dinner. I found a tray of thin chicken breasts that were like scallopini. I remembered I bought them on sale for less than $4 (when I see sales like that I stock up and vacuum seal them). I also had a fresh bunch of asparagus sitting in the fridge. I knew I wanted to make something that incorporated both ingredients and then I remembered I also had some low fat old cheddar cheese (not old as in time spent in my fridge but old as in flavour ūüėČ )

I thought “how about wrapping the asparagus in the chicken lined with some cheese for extra flavour!”

Defrosting the chicken didn’t take long and here is how it turned out. ¬†I got 4 wrapped pieces which is 4 meals along with a salad. ¬†Not bad for a total of about $6 -$7 dollars. They looked great and where tasty too.

chicken wrapped asparagus

Ingredients:

2 Boneless skinless chicken breasts thinly sliced and pounded (or buy them this way as I did)

¬Ĺ – 1 lb of asparagus

Old cheddar cheese thinly sliced (or any cheese of your liking – goat cheese would work well too – I just used what I had on hand – use 1-2 slices per roll – it will leak out a bit but who doesn’t like melted cheese?)

Pepper to taste

1 Tbsp olive oil

Directions:

Lay a slice of chicken breast flat on a plate or piece of parchment or any type of sheet/board – I have a bunch of those thin plastic cutting boards. Lay down 1-2 slices of cheese (or spread goat cheese) per piece of chicken. Place about 4-5 stalks of asparagus trimmed (it can stick out the bottom and top) and roll the chicken and cheese around the asparagus. Hold together with a toothpick or two – remember to remove these before serving.

Place roll in heated frying pan with the olive oil an sear all around. Once chicken is lightly browned or cooked outside all around, place pan in oven at 350 degrees (F) for 15 minutes. This will finish the cooking and make sure the asparagus is also cooked nicely. Remember ovens vary so if you need a few minutes longer then leave it in for about 20 minutes – shouldn’t need any longer though.

Remove from the pan and serve. ¬†This whole dish took 30 minutes from start to finish. Now thats what I call “Cheap and Cheerful”!

Chicken Enchiladas

I mentioned in a previous post I have been doing a bunch of cooking for my friend Darren which gave me a great excuse to try out some new recipes. ¬†Darren was great and agreed to be my tester for a few weeks. Here is another one of the new recipes I tried and I think turned out well. The pictures don’t do it justice. (I apologize as the pictures were taken from the leftovers – which is my food ūüėČ )

Note: this can be made vegetarian by eliminating the chicken and perhaps using tofu.

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This looks like a ton of food I realize in the picture but it is on a small bread plate not a dinner plate. Once again I would consider this comfort food and on the whole quite healthy.

Ingredients:   Serves 8

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast sliced in thin lengthwise strips (similar to fajitas)

1 onion, chopped

1.5  cups low fat yogurt

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (you can use a low fat cheese here – I used an old cheddar for the extra zing)

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Pinch black pepper

2 cups of pasta sauce

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 cup chopped  pepper (any colour will do)

2 cloves garlic, minced

8 – (10 inch) whole wheat flour tortillas

1  jar salsa  (about 1.5 cups)

3/4 cup shredded cheddar or any cheese you like

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. In a skillet over medium heat, sauté chicken till cooked. Drain excess moisture.  Add the onion, yogurt, 1 cup of cheddar cheese, parsley, oregano and ground black pepper. Heat until cheese melts Рabout a minute or two. Stir in pasta sauce, water, chili powder, chopped pepper and garlic.

3. On a plate Рlay one torilla flat and spread a portion of the mixture down the middle of the tortilla. Fold over the ends and place in a baking dish with the seam side facing down. Cover with salsa, the left over sauce from the pan  and the remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Bake uncovered in the preheated oven 20 minutes.

4. When serving, add a spoonful of yogurt on top and rice on the side (or in my case red and white quinoa with vegetables).  The rice/quinoa helps to absorb any extra juices from the enchiladas.

Dinner at Pizza Libretto (Toronto – Danforth Ave.)

Last night I had dinner with my friend Peter before we went to see the movie “Philomena”. ¬†We decided on Pizza Libretto as it was in the neighbourhood and was fast service. Pizza Libretto serves traditional style Neapolitan Pizza. What does that mean you ask? Well it means it is cooked using all natural ingredients such as Marzano tomatoes in ovens imported from Italy and built by 3rd generation pizza oven makers in Naples. It also means the dough is naturally leavened with Italian Caputo dopio zero flour. Further, these specialty ovens cook the pizza at 900 degrees for only 90 seconds (hence the fast service). ¬†All that being said you are probably wondereing “How good was the pizza?”

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Well Peter had the fresh arugula with Ontario prosciutto, garlic, tomato, oregano, basil and shaved grana padano cheese. His pizza was quite delicious and very fresh tasting.

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I chose the cremini mushroom with bufala mozzarella, goronzola, roasted garlic, rosemary, thyme and pecorino (I did ask them to leave out the thyme as it is not my favourite herb).

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While mine tasted fine – Peters was definitely better in my books – more flavour.¬†I love mushrooms but I guess when they are only baked for 90 seconds albeit at 900 degrees – they don’t release much of their flavour so I found mine a bit bland. ¬†Also the center of the pizza is very very thin and quite moist so you cannot pick a piece up with your fingers and eat it – you need to use a knife and fork. I am not saying this is a bad thing it is just different from that usual.

I will say that adding the hot chilli oil helped add flavour to my pizza.  Peters was certainly more flavourful though but same issues with the centre.

Portion size is big – I couldn’t finish mine. The cost for mine was $17 and for Peters – $16. ¬†Not crazy high prices and it certainly was large enough to share along with a salad I think.

All in all РYes I would go back but no, I would not order the mushroom pizza again.  I would try something different.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easy Italian Baked Eggs (Gluten Free)

I came across this blog (which I now follow), and it looked like the perfect cold weather comfort bowl for either breakfast, lunch or dinner! ¬†I saw it on a blog called nutritionist in the kitch. It seems she came across it on a site called Damn Delicious (that’s how blogs work – stuff gets linked around – although you always link it back to the original place the recipe came from).

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Check out the blog at the link below (photo is by nutritionist in the kitch):

http://www.nutritionistinthekitch.com/2013/11/25/easy-italian-baked-eggs-gluten-free/

I am including the recipe below but check out the site as it really is great.

Prep time 10 mins

Cook time 10 mins

 Total time 20 mins

Serves: 1

Ingredients

  • ¬Ĺ teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons diced onion
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • ¬ľ cup prepared marinara sauce
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • ¬ľ cup part-skim mozzarella, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons light parmesan cheese
  • ¬ľ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • dash of salt
  • dash of pepper
 Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Add oil to a saucepan and heat at medium, add in onions and sautee until soft, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add in spinach and sautee until just wilted, about 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in marinara sauce and sautee until heated through.
  5. Transfer mixture to a ceramic soup bowl or individual sized ramekin.
  6. Crack in both eggs.
  7. Top with cheese and sprinkle with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes, and broil for an additional 2 minutes until cheese is bubbling.
  9. Enjoy!

Nutritional Information

Serving size: 1 Calories: 290 kcal Fat: 18g Carbohydrates: 11g Sugar: 4g Fiber: 3gProtein: 22g

Zucchini Cheese Strata

My apologies РI started to re-blog this last week and realized I already had a blog going that day so I cancelled this one.  It looked so good and since stratas are one of my all time favourite brunch meals I am re-blogging it now.  This recipe is gluten free but if that is not an issue for you then I would use a large loaf or two of french bread. I also make this recipe with sautéed mixed vegetables as well.  You can put anything into it.  Pancetta is great diced in small pieces.  Also I generally use egg whites so when I make a strata I go half and half with whole eggs and egg whites. This recipe comes from a blog I follow called Gluten-Free Gus.

Enjoy!

http://glutenfreegus.com/2013/11/05/zucchini-cheese-strata/

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Enjoy