02 July 2010

Chicken Marsala

About a month ago, my wife and I decided to try something new. We went to a chain Italian restaurant here locally, one that we had never been to before. The food was amazing, but the prices were a little on the outrageous side. My favourite of all that we tried, the Chicken Marsala. I knew from the first bite that this was something that I was going to have to recreate at home.

I'm not a huge fan of wine, I have to admit. But cooking with wine...nothing could be better. Marsala wine (which was surprisingly difficult to find locally) is no exception. I decided on a deep amber Marsala, or rather I bought it because it was the only kind carried by our local liquor emporium. A simple taste of the wine reminded me that most of the stuff "tastes like rotten grapes", as my wife would say. The deep sweetness, however pairs excellently with mushrooms and veggies.

I used a recipe from a recent edition to my iPhone. Epicurious has put out a lovely iPhone app that is a collection of their best magazine recipes. The search options, and "grocery list organizer" options make it wonderful for any level of cook. If you don't want to download the app, or don't have an iPhone, their online website has a great wealth of recipes, including the "Chicken and Mushroom Marsala" recipe that I made.

In place of their suggested "mushrooms" I used creminis (baby portabellas) because I love their meaty earthy flavour. This dish is listed in their "low-cal" menu, making it a great addition to our normal low-calorie foods. I loved this dish so much, I'm planning on trying the Marsala flavour with other types of meat. I can only imagine that this would be just as great with pork, or a meaty whitefish.

Try it, you might like it...or maybe you'll order pizza.

29 June 2010

Summertime Desserts

Desserts and Summertime go hand in hand, and one of my favourites is Strawberry Shortcake. Admittedly I cheated with this dessert and bought the pre-cooked angelfood cake. The whipped cream, however, was made from scratch. It was so good that I've vowed to never buy that crappy frozen whipped cream again!

Whipped Cream

2 pints heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla flavouring

Whip all ingredients together until mixture becomes thick. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving to make sure the cream stays firm.

21 February 2010

New Cookbooks, New Menu, and New Fish!

We got 3 new low-carb and healthy eating cookbooks this weekend. You can always tell that a cookbook is going to be good if you're salivating after just a few page flips. All three of these did that for us, which is why we have 3, and not just one. I'm very excited about starting some new recipes again, and picking from these, as well as from some of our older books.

With this week, we're trying something new for a while. We want to have at least one fish dish per week, typically on a Sunday or Monday. To go with the new cookbooks, we're having a new fish, monkfish. I fully didn't expect to find monkfish in our area, and really didn't know what I was looking for when I went to the market. Thank goodness for store employees knowing exactly what we needed. Monkfish is not pretty, let me state that as an absolute fact right up front. It also tends to have a very strong seafood smell, which I don't enjoy. After it was cooked, though, it was buttery, tender and actually quite tasty for fish.

This week's Menu:

Sunday - Bacon Wrapped Mustard Glazed Monkfish with Spinach, Bacon and Goat Cheese Salad
Monday - Chicken Basquaise and Caesar salad with Shrimp
Tuesday - Pesto Baked Chicken and Vegetable Casserole
Wednesday - Penne pasta with Mushrooms, Sausage and Broccoli
Thursday - Stuffed Pork Chops and Spiced Carrots

Bacon Wrapped Mustard Glazed Monkfish
From the Everything Low-Carb Cookbook

4 slices high quality bacon
2 6oz monkfish fillets
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon dried tarragon

1. In 350 degree oven, par-cook bacon slices so that they are still pliable.
2. Drain bacon and allow to cool.
3. Coat each monkfish fillet in 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Wrap fillet in bacon. Use toothpicks to hold bacon if needed. Do not let bacon overlap.
5. In 375 degree oven, cook bacon wrapped fillets for at least 20 to 25 minutes.
6. Switch heat to low broil to crisp the bacon. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes or until crispy.
7. Add tarragon over hot fillet. Remove toothpicks and serve.

Spinach, Bacon and Goat Cheese Salad
From the Everything Low-Carb Cookbook

1/8 lb of spinach per serving
2-3 button mushrooms per serving, sliced thin
1/8 small scallion per serving, sliced thin
2 tablespoons bacon bits per serving
2 tablespoons goat or blue cheese per serving

1. Mix all ingredients in bowl.
2. Add vinaigrette dressing to taste and serve.

A great meal to set off a new week, and renewed interest in eating healthy!

09 February 2010


It's only Tuesday and this has already been a busy week. Having a food pick-me-up is a great way to make it through the rest of the week. What could make for a better way to jump-start the rest of the week than steak marinated in coffee?

It sounds odd, but it's setting on the counter right now, creating a magnificent aroma throughout the house. I found this marinade on the Food Network website, and thought it warranted at least one try. Best of all, RedHairedCelt, an avid coffee lover is going to try the recipe tonight as well, and hopefully we'll compare notes tomorrow.

The rest of the week is going to be pretty standard dishes. I'll be making Chicken Parmesan tomorrow, and attempting Chicken Kiev on Thursday (with lots of Wednesday prep). I'm sure they'll both be great.

Try it! You might like it...or maybe you'll order pizza.

06 February 2010

Ultimate Comfort

With the storms that are passing through the east coast, its great to have a food made that brings comfort and warmth. Having chicken and dumplings takes me back to my childhood, and one of those foods that you didn't have often, but when you did, it was the best thing ever!

Since I had never made chicken and dumplings before, I wanted an easy recipe to follow, one that really just couldn't go wrong. I chose to go with this recipe, for which I am very glad. In the future, I might branch out and try to make the entire thing from scratch, but until then having this recipe will work out beautifully. The recipe was such a hit in the house that Staci actually went to the grocery on Friday after work to pick up enough supplies to be able to make the recipe again this weekend.

I'm boiling the chicken right now. I've made a small modification to include both white and dark meat chicken this time. I think that it will turn out great!

Try it! You might like it...or maybe you'll order pizza.

03 February 2010

Hurried Curried Chicken.

Chicken Curry tonight!!! One of the dishes that I enjoy the most. the recipe came from the blog Soup and Dessert, a blog that I read regularly. The author of this blog posted the Chicken Curry recipe at the end of 2009, and I immediately added it to my "to be cooked" bookmarks. It was so easy to make, and actually turned out pretty good. I still have a long way to go to make more "authentic" Indian dishes, but this one came together pretty nicely.

I called this one my Hurried Curried Chicken, because I had Staci ask me several times when the food was going to be done. The aroma from the first spices in the oil is enough to get you salivating. I could barely wait for everything to be cooked. I'm sure that the sauce could have only improved if allowed to simmer for a few more minutes, but we both got to the point that we just couldn't wait any longer.
I enjoyed this curry a great deal.

I'm sure that I'll make it again, maybe in the summer when tomatoes are fresh and warm from the garden. That could only add to the flavour of this dish!

Try it! You might like it...or maybe you'll order pizza.

02 February 2010

Stew and Casserole

Yesterday was our day for Beef Stew cooked in the pressure cooker. Today was the Chicken Boudine. Neither were one of those "stand up and shout it" recipes, but both were filling, and most importantly very comforting foods. Both recipes made a lot of servings, so we'll probably be eating on both for a few days. I know the beef stew tastes even better the second day, I guess I'll find out tomorrow about the Boudine.

Update: The Boudine held up pretty well into the next day. If you want to know the truth of the matter, it was actually tastier on the 2nd day. The sharp cheddar seemed to be more married through the cream of mushroom base. I think if I made this again, I'd probably make it a day in advance and re-heat on the day I wanted to eat.

Try it! You might like it...or maybe you'll order pizza.

31 January 2010


Today has been one of those non-stop days. We worked on the banister for most of the morning. We stopped at lunch to cook (and take a nap). From mid-afternoon to this evening we've been cleaning the upstairs portion of the house, straightening the downstairs, and cooking dinner. I don't know about Staci, but I feel pooped. I'm excited with how the banister looks. I think we'll probably do another coat next weekend, and then seal it off. We'll have to do the second rail next weekend, as we just ran out of time this weekend.

For dinner tonight, at the request of Staci, I made a "traditional" Sunday dinner of fried chicken and potato salad. The potato salad was one that I've made before, and fell in love with it. It's an awesome vinaigrette version, as compared to the heavier mayo or sour cream based ones that I've made in the past. For chicken, I opted for an oven-baked fried chicken that I found while going through the recipes on Food Network's website. The whole time I was making it, I could only think of those Shake-n-Bake commericals from the 80's and 90's. It wasn't exactly like eating fried chicken, but it was a healthier alternative.

While I was at it, I also whipped up some egg salad to make sandwiches for the week. I found a good
wrap-style sandwich on Food Network as well from Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger. I like her show a lot, and most of the items she makes are favourful and appetizing. I am changing the recipe up a bit by making the sammies in pita pockets rather than the wraps. They should be just as good, with hopefully not many more calories.

Now that I'm sitting and writing all of this out, I think I'll head to bed. It's been a productive, though exhausting weekend.

Try it! You might like it...or maybe you'll order pizza.

Late-night Snack

Staci worked really hard while I was at the grocery yesterday refinishing our banister. While I was at the grocery, I picked up one of her favourites, bing cherries. Last night, we both feasted on a bowl. To be the middle of winter, they were fantastic.

And today, for lunch we're having a warm bowl of chicken and rice soup. I gave the recipe for this soup before; it's a fast recipe, and a warm and refreshing meal on a day when it's still cold outside.

30 January 2010

It's menu time...

Rather than stay at home in the snow, I decided to get the weekly shopping done early. It took a while for Staci and I to put together this week's menu, but I'm happy with it. It may not be the best food for you, but it certainly is comforting food. The best part is I used my newly designed Meal Planner and Shopping List designed by Staci. It's got so much more writing space than the one that I was using previously. I was excited to get this week started, so I made homemade pizza again tonight. I won't post any pictures since we've made them before.

Sunday - Oven Fried Chicken and Roasted Potato Salad
Monday - Pressure Cooker Beef Stew
Tuesday - Chicken Boudine
Wednesday - Curried Chicken
Thursday - Chicken and Dumplings

28 January 2010

Going Italian...

Today's recipe is probably just outside the realm of "good for you" food, but it sure did taste like it should be good for you. Staci found this Chicken Piccatta recipe on the Food Network. It was originally done by Ina Garten, one of my personal favourite cooks. I made one small modification to the recipe by adding a teaspoon of capers into the sauce. If you do put in capers, don't worry about adding the salt to the sauce like the recipe. The capers will provide enough salt to season the dish.

Lemon juice and white wine make for such an awesome pairing. I've really been impressed, both with the taste, and the fact that Staci and I have been using both regularly. So regularly, in fact, that both have to go on the shopping list this weekend as we're out of wine, and almost out of lemon juice.

Try it! You might like it...or maybe you'll order pizza.

27 January 2010

It's soooo cheesy!!

Another vegetarian dish today, that's two this week. This one was a home run...warm stringy cheesy goodness with fresh basil and tomatoes. Such a perfect Italian-esque combination. I don't know why they work so well together, and I don't care as long as I can eat it all up!

I want to make this again. I think it turned out better than a traditional mac-n-cheese. When I do make it again though, I'll probably infuse the oil with some red pepper flake at the same time I heat the garlic. The ricotta can be a bit heavy and bland in the dish. I think it may have needed a touch of heat to cut the heaviness.
Overall though, I was greatly impressed with the dish, and because I used a whole wheat pasta, fat free mozzarella, and low fat ricotta, the dish stayed at a reasonable calorie count while being an awesome treat!

Creamy Cheese Rotini with Garlic and Oil
From the Turn Around Program

1/2 pound whole-wheat rotini
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, in chiffonade
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

1. Cook rotini according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
2. Heat oil in large skillet. Add garlic and stir to infuse oil and brown garlic.
3. Add rotini to skillet. Stir to coat. Add ricotta and mozzarella cheeses. Stir to mix and melt.
4. Remove pan from heat. Add tomato, basil, salt and pepper. Mix and serve.

Try it! You might like it...or maybe you'll order pizza.

26 January 2010

Something Fish-y

The sauce for this today's Salmon with Dill-Mustard sounded like it was going to be one of those "kick you in the mouth" kind of sauces. In actuality, it had a wonderful mild taste, and paired extremely well with the salmon. I added a side of balsamic mushroom couscous, which wasn't really needed, but was nice to have. Couscous is such an easy item to make, I want to make it all the time now. I'll have to come up with some different recipes for it soon.

Salmon with Spinach, Tomatoes and Dill-Mustard Sauce
From the Turn Around Program

1/2 cup fat free sour cream
4 teaspoons whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 (1/4 pound) skinless salmon fillets
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup chopped shallots
2 garlic cloves
1 pint grape tomatoes
10 oz fresh spinach

1. Combine sour cream, mustard, dill, and lemon juice in bowl. Refrigerate till service.
2. Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper. In lightly greased non-stick skillet, cook fillets over medium high heat till lightly browned on both sides and opaque in the center. Remove fillets from pan and cover to keep warm.
3. In same skillet, add shallots and garlic. Stir and cook for 1-2 minutes till fragrant.
4. Add grape tomatoes to skillet, stirring for an additional 1-2 minutes till warmed.
5. Add spinach and allow to wilt.
6. Serve salmon fillets on top of the spinach and tomato mixture. Add a spoonful of the mustard mixture on top of the spinach.

I would recommend doing this one in a large skillet. The only non-stick that I have is a small pan that I usually reserve only for cooking eggs. Trying to cook all of the salmon rather than boiling in juices, and wilting the spinach is hard to do in a small pan. The overall flavour of this is very unique. Dill is something that I usually equate with pickles only. I think pickles are evil, so I typically don't eat dill. Paired with the mustard, however, it compliments the salmon nicely and you don't get to strong of a dill punch.

Given the state of the tomatoes and spinach, this isn't a "re-heat friendly" food. The salmon and the couscous, however, should be good for a second day. I guess I'll find out tomorrow!

Try it! You might like it...or maybe you'll order pizza.

25 January 2010

Weekly Menu

It's another week, and another menu. This week seems pretty great, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the food if everything is as good as today's.

Monday - Grilled Portobello with Salad Greens

Tuesday - Salmon with Spinach in a Tomato, Dill and Mustard sauce

Wednesday - Creamy Cheese Rotini with Garlic and Oil

Thursday - Chicken Picatta

I'm convinced that if I could serve Portobello mushrooms to Staci every day, I could turn her into a vegetarian. Well, I like to think that I could, anyway. It's not the best time of year to find portobellos; I want to try this again in the spring when you can find the giant ones in the store. This was a simple recipe, something that was meant as an appetizer. I just increased the mushroom count to two medium per person. I sliced them and put them on top of some mixed spring greens, and added a touch of mozzarella. Simply delicious!

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms
From the
Turn Around Program

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespooons soy sauce

1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme

1. Mix all ingredients together. Marinate mushrooms for 10 minutes flipping often.
2. Grill mushrooms or cook under broiler for 1-2 minutes per side till warmed through.
3. While hot, slice mushrooms and serve over greens.

Try it! You might like it...or maybe you'll order pizza.

23 January 2010

Herbal Remedy

By way of Ruchikacooks, I found a wonderful link to a blog site, A2ZVegetarianCuisine, that is collecting home herbal remedies for everyday ailments. I've always been fascinated with using herbs rather than man-made drugs, so I thought this would be an awesome time to add those types of recipes to the blog as well.

The recipe that I'm going to post to be part of this event is a massage oil that I've made in the past to help with sore and aching muscles. If you've had an exceptionally rough day, its great to mix with Epsom salt, and use as a body scrub while in a hot shower. The clove works to stimulate blood flow, and will act as a mild pain reliever. The sage also helps in pain relief, and has a wonderful calming affect on the body.

Clove and Sage Massage Oil
Topical application only!

2 cups virgin olive oil, or grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons dried sage leaves
2 tablespoons cloves

1. In mortar and pestle, lightly crush sage and cloves.
2. Combine all ingredients in heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat on stove. As oil heats, reduce heat so as not to bring over the smoke point.
3. Heat oil for 7 to 10 minutes, then remove from heat and allow to cool.
4. Strain oil through cheesecloth so that only oil remains. Store in airtight cotainer out of direct sunlight. You can add addtional cloves to oil while stored to increase potency.

21 January 2010

When they say "Chicken Soup for the Soul"...

...they must be talking about this soup. Greek Chicken, Spinach and Rice Soup. It sounds simple enough, but the punch of flavour that this soup packs is staggering. Staci and I both agree that thus far, this has to rank in the top 5 items that we've made (she says the top 2). It's made from some simple staple ingredients that we normally have around the house, but not necessarily things that I would have put together. Bring me lemon chicken and I'll turn up my nose; combine it in a soup and I'll ask for a second bowl.

Greek Chicken, Spinach and Rice Soup
From the Turn Around Program Cookbook

4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth

1/2 lb. chicken breast, trimmed of all fat

2 large eggs

1/4 cup lemon juice
10 oz chopped cooked spinach
2 cups cooked brown rice
ground pepper to taste

1. Bring broth to boil in pan, add chicken. Reduce to simmer till chicken fully cooked.

2. Remove chicken and set aside. Shred once cooled.

3. Wisk eggs and lemon juice till frothy. Using one cup of broth, whisk into egg mixture to temper.

4. In pan, add spinach to remaining broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and stir in rice.

5. Whisk in the egg-broth mixture, being careful to keep mixture moving to avoid curdling. Continue whisking till mixture thickens.

6. Add chicken back to soup and cook on low while stirring till chicken is re-heated. Season with pepper, and serve.
This recipe makes about 4 healthy sized servings.

Instead of the suggested frozen spinach, I julienned about a pound of fresh spinach and wilted it down before adding to the soup. I wasn't happy with the strong kick of the frozen spinach; this was a nice alternative. I also added in some toasted french bread with fresh grated garlic. It made for a nice combo pair, and a great dinner.

Yesterday's dinner was pretty good too. The gingered pot-roast actually had a pretty nice taste, but I'm not a fan of the eye-of-round cut that was suggested. Even cooking the entire deal in the pressure cooker, it was still a tough meat. I'll keep this recipe on the back burner and maybe try it with some stew meat in the future.

Try it! You might like it...or maybe you'll order pizza.

19 January 2010

Laissez l'etouffee..

Tonight was the night for Spinach and Mushroom Etouffee. The recipe was actually easy to follow, and was finished cooking quickly. I made a couple of small modifications, namely in adding in some tomato paste to add a little more depth to the cream of mushroom and cream of celery base, and using a bit more paprika to add to the smokiness of the dish.

I will say that the recipe is nothing like what Staci and i ate at Gumbo Ya-Ya's. It was good, but it wasn't on-par with traditional creole food. I'm going to keep looking around the net to see if i can find a vegetable etouffee or similar recipe so that I can try this again. Keepign the garlic, green pepper and onion a very small chop helps the overall dish. The bigger the pieces, the more apparent they are in the sauce, which only distracts from the texture of the chopped mushroom. Also, I'll probably use fresh spinach in my next attempt. The frozen spinach that I used tonight almost overpowered the complete taste palate. I think that had I cooked the dish for longer, maybe in a slow cooker, the spinach may have been tamed. Staci also thought that the cream of celery was too strong of a forefront taste, so if I use this recipe again, I'll likely use 2 of the cream of mushroom.

Outside the realm of "good for you food", I made Kheer tonight. Kheer is a rice dessert usually made with milk, cardamom, sugar, pistachios or cashews and raisins. I have my own recipe that I use most of the time, but this recipe is pretty close to how I make it. I usually add in some red or golden raisins, and on occasion, coconut flakes. It's a very sweet dessert, which means that you can usually get away with eating a small portion.

Try it! You might like it...or maybe you'll order pizza.

18 January 2010

Not-so Gumbo

I never thought that red peppers could be so good! Normally eating a red pepper leaves a strange carrot-y acidic taste in my mouth. Today, having the red peppers roasted and then blended into a sauce was in a word, delectable. Combined with the white wine and dijon mustard flavors on the sausage and prawns it made for a sweet and deep smoky flavor.

This was a must-have recipe for a chilly day, and was a great addition to what seems to be a "comfort-food" week.
I didn't follow the recipe in full today, I embarked out on my own. Though I made some personal changes, I think that the recipe followed the overall flavour palate that the recipe originally implied. Though I've given credit to the recipe below, the directions will be how I cooked it today.

Shrimp and Sausage with Red Rice
From the
Williams-Sonoma Grilling & Roasting Cookbook.

1/2 cup apricot preserves

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

16 large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 1/3 cups long grain white rice

2 2/3 cups water

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 large red peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped

4 green onions, separated into white and green parts

2 teaspoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup white wine

4 sweet italian sausages (3/4 lb)

parsley to garnish

1. In rice cooker or other vessel toast the rice then combine with water and cook till all water is absorbed. Keep warm.

2. While rice is cooking, combine butter and white parts of green onion in saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes or until onions soften.

3. Add red pepper to saucepan, along with chicken stock and chili powder. Allow to cook for 3-5 minutes until peppers are softened.

4. Pour ingredients of saucepan to blender and blend into smooth sauce. Return ingredients to pan and allow to simmer on the stove.

5. In small skillet, pour in white wine. Add sausages and cook till done throughout.

6. Move sausages to plate, chop, and add to red pepper sauce.

7. In same pan used for sausages, add oil, lemon juice, preserves, mustard and dash of stock or water to blend evenly. Cook shrimp in mixture till slightly opaque.

8. In bowl combine red pepper and sausage sauce with rice and shrimp. Toss in green onion tops and parsley to garnish.

An easy and filling recipe. Instead of the sweet sausages, i used the chicken and spinach sausages that we bought last weekend. I think they really added to the overall dish taste. This recipe is supposed to serve 4, but its more like 6 or 7 servings. I had more than enough for Staci and I to take for lunch tomorrow.

Try it! You might like it...or maybe you'll order pizza.

17 January 2010

Homemade Pizza

We started out the new week right today by having homemade pizza. I bought the thin crust from the store pre-made. Staci and I coated them with olive oil, and a thin layer of tomato sauce, and then dressed them with some great non-traditional pizza items. We opted for fresh mozzarella, spinach, kalamata olives, canadian bacon, turkey pepperoni, and mushrooms. They were great, and much better for us than something that we could have ordered in from a pizza joint!

Next week's list is prepared and ready to go. I'm most excited for Tuesday, as I'll be trying to make Spinach and Mushroom Etouffee. Staci and I went to a Cajun place called Gumbo Ya-Ya's here locally. We tried a sample of their Spinach and Mushroom Etouffee and just fell in love with it. It was tasty, filling, and spicy - just like you want a good Cajun dish to be! I haven't been too successful in finding a similar recipe online, but I've found a couple of recipies that I'm going to try and tweak to produce a similar result.

Monday - Shrimp & Sausage with Red Rice
Tuesday - Spinach & Mushroom Etouffee
Wednesday - Spiced Pot Roast
Thursday - Greek Chicken and Spinach Rice Soup

All of these seem like very comforting foods. I can't wait to get started cooking them.

Try it! You might like it...or maybe you'll order pizza.

14 January 2010

Kabobs and dog biscuits.

Two nights, two very different styles of kabobs. Yesterday was the Chicken Souvlaki, tonight the Moorish Pork. Both were equally delicious, albeit very different from one another. Both yesterday's and today's dishes allowed us to use ingredients that we normally don't, namely wine and vinegar. I've learned quickly that white wine, if used to marinate too long, will dry out meat. If it's used for the correct amount of time, it can be such a great addition to food.

The souvlaki was marinated a tad bit too long. My guess is it was not just the white wine, but the lemon juice that led to the dryness to the chicken. It could also be that I cut the meat into too small of pieces. Even with it being slightly dry, the flavour was amazing. Fresh, clean and with a hint of citrus and oregano. Just a marvelous pairing with the deep flavours of the sun dried tomato and mushroom couscous. It was only the second time that I've had couscous, and I LOVED it! I don't understand why more people don't make it; boil water, pour in dry couscous, let set for 5 minutes and you're done. How easy and quick is that? And to be a pasta dish, it has such a light texture. It's deceptively filling.

The recipe for the couscous came from AllRecipes.com. You can find it here.

Chicken Souvlaki
From the Williams-Sonoma Grilling & Roasting Cookbook

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 chopped bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken cut into 1 inch cubes

1. In bowl, combine olive oil, wine, lemon juice, onion, garlic, bay leaves oregano and salt and pepper.
2. Add chicken to coat and allow to marinate for 1 hour up to overnight.
3. Thread chicken cubes on to pre-soaked bamboo skewers.
4. Cook over medium hot grill, or under broiler in oven.

For every bit that yesterday's chicken had a clean and citrus flavour, today's Moorish Pork had a deep earthy and spicy flavour. Such a change from the norm that I make with pork. And coupled with the Roasted Potato Salad, it was pure bliss! Staci also added in some wonderful french bread that she picked up today, and some soft garlic cheese. I can't help but be happy that we've not had a "bad" recipe yet. Everything has been delicious, hearty, and full of flavour, so much so that I'm having trouble picking new recipies, because I want to keep making this stuff over and over. The Roasted Potato Salad will definately be a regular in the house. It was easy to make, thought it takes a while, and the texture is so very different from the normal mayo or sour cream based potato salads. The tartness that the vinegar brings to the mix only adds to the earthiness of the potato.

Moorish Pork Kabob
From the Williams-Sonoma Grilling & Roasting Cookbook

2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried pepper flake
ground pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 pound lean pork cut into one-inch cubes

1. Mix together the garlic, salt, coriander, paprika, cumin, thyme, pepper flake, olive oil and lemon juice. Add ground pepper to taste.
2. Mix in pork cubes and allow to marinate for 1 hour, up to overnight
3. Thread marinated pork on to pre-soaked skewers.
4. Cook over medium-heat grill, or under broiler.

Roasted Potato Salad
From the Williams-Sonoma Grilling & Roasting Cookbook

3 pounds baby red potatoes
2/3 cup coarse salt
2 tablespoons dry white wine, divided
2 tablespoons extra vergin olive oil
3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar, divided
1 shallot, minced
3 tablespoons tarragon
3/4 cup pure olive oil
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
pepper to taste
3 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash potato, and place on baking sheet whole. Cover with coarse salt and bake in the oven till tender but firm.
2. Remove potatoes from oven, clean off salt from skin and slice while still warm. Add slices to bowl and toss with the extra virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the vinegar.
3. Add shallots and tarragon to the potatoes, stir gently and set aside.
4. In small bowl, combine the pure olive oil, 2 tablespoons vinegar and mustard. Season with Pepper to taste. Pour over the potato mixture and stir gently. Cover and refrigerate for one hour.
5. Before serving, toss in green onions and parsley.

Of course, with all of this good food, our poor Scottie dog, Finnigan, has not had his share of "the hooman food", so I thought I'd make a homemade dog-treat for him. The Peanut Butter and Banana Dog Bisucits that I found on AllRecipes.com sounded like an easy, and good treat to make for him. He's eaten 5 small biscuits, and is begging for more. I think they're a hit. (And for those of you that are wondering, yes I tried one; they taste like stale banana bread.)

Try It! You might like it...or maybe you'll order pizza.

12 January 2010

Swordfish...no, not the Halle Berry Movie

Yesterday, ah yesterday. I cooked the lamb (above) but didn't blog about it, and I learned that I need to know more about different cuts of meat. My first experience with lamb recipes was actually a rib chop, yesterday I cooked a loin chop. Loin chops are a much tougher cut of meat, not meant for quick-cooking under the broiler. I'd definitely recommend the rib chop if you're cooking the recipe.

Today was a much simpler recipe, Marinated Swordfish with Wilted Greens, Pine Nuts and Bacon. I don't typically go for seafood items, but swordfish is quite nice. I like the thickness of the meat, and how well it holds up to being cooked. It was a tasty dish, and easy to prepare. The recipe was actually meant to be cooked on the grill, so as we get closer to summer, I may try this one again. I'm sure that cooking over an open fire, instead of in a pan, would make for an even tastier meal.

The greens that I cooked tonight were a mix of Kale, Chard, Mustard Greens, Turnip Greens and Spinach. I modified the Swiss Chard with Bacon recipe from my first post to include toasted pine nuts, and some red pepper flakes for heat. Everything else remained the same. I'm not totally sure, but either the mustard greens or the turnip greens had a strange bitterness that I didn't enjoy. Overall though, I'm still impressed with the fact that Staci and I are both eating greens. They're much better than I could have imagined.

The recipe for the marinated swordfish, if you're interested, can be found here. I'd recommend it as a summer dish. The citrus flavour mixed with the dryness of the white wine really played well with the meatiness of the fish. I'm wondering if the marinade would hold up well with other types of fish. I'll have to try that another day!

Try it! You might like it...or maybe you'll order pizza.

10 January 2010

Bangers and Rice

Staci and I have our weekly menu planned, and I'm very excited! Monday is the only real cheat-night, as we're re-doing the lamb that we did last week. I'm trying a different cut of meat this time, an actual shank, rather than the rib. I'm going to make the same sauce again, and use less cucumber to see if it will end up thicker than last time. We're branching out a bit this week, but still some great hearty items.

Monday - Lamb Shanks and Greek Yogurt Sauce.
Tuesday - Marinated Swordfish with Skillet Greens
Wednesday Chicken Souvlaki with Tomato and Mushroom Couscous
Thursday - Pork Kabobs with Roasted Red Potato Salad
Friday - Dine-out Night.

I opted for the easy route today at lunch. Staci and I went out with family yesterday, and while we were shopping we saw these delectable chicken sausages with spinach. I made a group of them today, and I'm saving the rest for next week for an awesome recipe that we found. To jazz it up a little, I paired it with some spiced rice and a brown butter and sherry glaze.

Spiced Rice
ormaybepizza recipe by Alde

1 tablespoon of butter
1 cup basmati rice
1/3 teaspoon red pepper flake
1/3 teaspoon garam masala powder
2 cups chicken stock

1. In saucepan over medium heat melt butter and add red pepper flake and garam masala.
2. Add rice, stir regularly till basmati takes on slightly golden colour.
3. Pour in chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook till all liquid is absorbed.

Chicken Sausage with Brown Butter Sherry Glaze
ormaybepizza recipe by Alde

5 chicken sausage with spinach links
3 tablespoons of butter, divided
1/4 cup cooking sherry

1. In pan over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and add sausage links. Cook until warm throughout and browned on the outside.
2. Remove links from the pan. Add in remaining butter and allow to melt in pan. Pour in sherry and reduce until alcohol is cooked out.
3. Arrange links over rice, spoon glaze over dish.

Try it! You might like it...or maybe you'll order pizza.

Late-night Jitters

I didn't make the roast chicken and potatoes tonight, but I did find something better: my own "Take That McD's Frappe!" recipe. Staci and I both are addicted to the caramel frappe that was just introduced by McDonald's. I wanted to try my hand at making one that would taste just as yummy, and cost a great deal less. Of course to be able to make this, we had to go out and pick a couple up to "taste test".

I think that the one that I made today was pretty good, and definitely close to being on-par with the McDonald's Frappe. Now, having the McDonald's one, and the home one, Staci and I are both up late with no sign of wanting to sleep.

Take That McD's Frappe
ormaybepizza original recipe by Alde

1 shot espresso, cooled
1 cup ice cubes
2 tablespoons milk
5 scoops vanilla ice cream
3 tablespoons caramel sauce
whipped cream

1. Add all ingredients to blender.
2. Pulse blender till ingredients are almost smooth.
3. Pour into glass, top with whipped cream and drizzled caramel sauce

I'd recommend that you use a really high-quality caramel when making this recipe. The better the caramel, the stronger the caramel flavour. I used a vanilla bean ice cream on this to give it a more pure taste, and went with a flavoured coffee, though regular of both would probably be just as good.

Try it! You might like it...or maybe you'll order a McDonald's Frappe.

09 January 2010

Fluff-Free Friday

Though I didn't escape the nearly 4 inches of white fluff outside, I did escape from writing "fluff" about cooking yesterday. I haven't escaped, I just took the night off and didn't cook. Staci and I have had a long-standing habit of eating out on Friday nights, and we thought that we'd maybe keep that tradition even with our new healthier eating habits. Was last night healthy? NO, but it was great to come home and not worry about food. I chilled on the couch, watched a movie, and made friends with some new music!

Today is a different story. We'll be working on our new week's worth of recipes, making the grocery list, and getting everything squared away for what is promising to be a very busy week outside of the home. I'll still be cooking one of the dishes that I was supposed to make on Friday, Roast Chicken with Potatoes. I'm sure I'll have an update later on the blog...

Try it! You might like it...or maybe you'll order pizza.

07 January 2010

Great Minds

I love it when I'm thinking of a wonderful idea, and things fall into place and I find exactly what I need, posted by someone online. Everyone that knows me knows that I'm a sucker for Excel or Open Office Calc. I was just trying to think of a way to put together a menu and grocery list in excel format. While I'm thinking, I go in to look at my daily RSS feeds, and what do I find but an awesome article promoted by Lifehacker about organizing menus and grocery lists.

I'm going to try out their PDF Grocery List this coming week to see how it works for us. At the least it will be a springboard to making my own form!

Not so spicy spiced beef

Like most of the eastern half of America, it's snowing here. We've managed to accumulate a few inches, but I don't think it's going to be anything drastic. On cold days like this, it's great to relax at home with some great spicy foods, or a warm bowl of soup. Today's spiced beef just didn't hit the mark for spiciness, but it was a very hearty meal. The pilaf was pretty good, though I think it could do without the celery. Both are interesting, and I think that they could be slightly tweaked to be made better.

Spiced Beef and Asparagus Stir-Fry
Taken from the Atkins for Life kit.

2 shell or strip steaks 1 inch thick

24 asparagus spears, trimmed

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

24 cherry tomatoes


2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespooon grated fresh ginger

1 large garlic clove, grated

1 tablespoon dry sherry

1 1/2 teaspoons preserves (apricot or orange are good)

1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon chinese five-spice powder

4 teaspoons canola oil

1. Remove fat from edges of steaks, cut crosswise into thin strips

2. Combine all marinade ingredients in a bag or dish. Add beef and toss to coat. Allow to marinate for one to 4 hours.

3. In nonstick skillet or wok, heat 1 teaspoon of oil over high heat. Add 1/3 of beef at a time and coook till no longer pink. Move to bowl and cook other two portions of beef.

4. Add another teaspoon of oil to skillet and toss in asparagus and sesame seeds. Stir fry for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes to heat through. Pour beef and juices back into pan and stir all ingredients together.

Brown Rice Pilaf
Taken from the Atkins for Life kit.

6 tablespoons of butter, divided

1/2 cup brown rice

1 cup, 2 tablespoons water

4 stalks celery, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt, divided

20 oz white or cremini mushrooms, sliced

1/4 teaspons black pepper

1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

1. In small saucepan melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add rice and celery and cook for 5 minutes until rice betins to brown slightly. Add 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of water and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook till all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.

2. In large skillet, melt remaining butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms and remaining salt. Cook until mushrooms turn brown and all liquid has evaporated. Dump mushrooms in with rice.

3. In skillet over medium heat, toast walnuts for 4 minutes until golden.

4. Add walnuts in with rice and mushrooms. Stir to combine.

The only change I would suggest making to the pilaf is cutting the amount of the celery. I personally only like using celery as a spice, not a main ingredient. It makes a great mirepoix, but isn't really good for much else in my book. For the beef, I think I'll make it next time with broccoli or some other green veggie. The asparagus didn't seem to cook through as much as I would have wanted. I love asparagus, but its flavour seemed to overpower the sesame and ginger flavours. I'll also add something to the marinade to give it some more heat. Maybe some red pepper flake, or a dash of ground red pepper.

Try it! You might like it...or maybe you'll order pizza!

06 January 2010

Stop loafing and eat your meat.

I realized yesterday as I was doing some prep work for today that I had completely thrown off all of the side-dishes that I had planned for the week. Due to my rotation, I was left with the ingredients for rice pilaf to accompany the meatloaf. Rice and meatloaf? I think not. So I opted for the quick cheat tonight and put some fake-mashed potatoes and green beans as the side. The rice pilaf will have to wait for tomorrow and the spiced beef and asparagus stir fry.

Tonight's meatloaf also came from the Atkins for Life recipe box. (I promise in the future I'll expand the recipe genre and cook other things!) It's called "Not your Mama's Meat Loaf", and I'd agree with that. I wasn't really feeling the flavor tonight, though Staci said that she thought it was great. I don't normally make my meatloaf with much more than regular hamburger, so the addition of pork and veal was nice for a change, but not really my cup of tea.

Not Your Mama's Meat Loaf
1 red bell pepper halved and seeded

1 plum tomato halved

1 cup bread crumbs

2 lbs meat loaf mix (beef, pork and veal)

1/4 cup chopped onion

1 large egg

2 tablespoons coarse-grain mustard

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 large garlic clove

1 teaspoon salt

1. In oven, broil pepper and tomato, cut sides down on large foil covered pan for 8 to 10 minutes until skin is charred and vegetables are tender.

2. Wrap foil around vegetables and let stand to cool. Remove and discard skin.

3. Puree the pepper and tomato in processor till smooth.

4. In large bowl combine all remaining ingredients, reserving ahlf the pepper and tomato puree.

5. Form a 9X4 loaf on an open pan. Bake for 50 minutes or until done. Pour remaining puree on top of meatloaf and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

If I try this recipe again, I'll probably get a better mustard, and use less of the puree. I'm waiting to see if the meatloaf gets better as it cools; I'm hoping for a great meatloaf sandwich!

On a side note, I found an interesting article posted today by NPR about eating more whole grains. It's a pretty nice read with some great information on lesser-known grains that should be more frequently used. I've bookmarked the page, and am excited to try out some of the recipes that they've posted. As soon as I try some, I'll give a review here.

Try it! You might like it...or maybe you'll order pizza.

05 January 2010

Barley Soup for the Soul

There are days, and then there are d.a.y.s.! Soup is always one of those comfort foods that is easy to fix, and does a body good. Unfortunately with a lot of canned soups the salt content is through the roof, and if you ask me, they lack the flavour that home-cooked soups can give.

Today was just that kind of soup, and it was...meatless! (Insert gasps here.)It was a rich and hearty Barley Vegetable soup with kale as the surprise ingredient. Interesting, to say the least. I will give a word of warning, kale is apparently the Disney World of slug-town. Make sure that if you buy kale you inspect every leaf, as the little slimy boogers will show up just about anywhere. The first three groups of kale in the grocery were covered with slugs. Luckily the bundle I brought home didn't have anything on them.

For fear of the soup not being filling enough, I will admit that I cooked some beef tips on the side in case they were needed. After trying the soup, it was actually very filling, and for lack of a better word, meaty, even without the meat. I also changed up the Atkins for Life recipe and used beef broth rather than chicken broth. It made the soup seem more hearty.

Barley Vegetable Soup

1/2 cup raw pearl barley
1 tablespoon of butter
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, chopped
4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup diced tomato
2 cups chopped kale

1. In small sauce pan bring 1 1/2 cups water to boil. Add barley, reduce to simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
2. In soup pot, melt butter and cook mushrooms and onion until slightly browned and tender.
3. Add garlic to soup pot and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
4. To soup pot, add all of the remaining ingredients (except for kale). Bring broth to a rolling boil and reduce to low. Cook for 15 minutes for flavours to mix.
5. Add kale and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

If you're looking for something quick and hearty, this soup is a great addition to your food rotation. I definitely want to try this recipe again using different stocks (chicken, vegetable) to see how it changes the overall flavour.

Try it! You might like it...or maybe you'll order pizza.

04 January 2010

Don't Judge a recipe by your imagination.

I really learned a good lesson about food today. I've been apprehensive of the Tomato, Zucchini and Mushroom Gratin since we chose it on Saturday. I just couldn't wrap my brain around zucchini in a cheese and heavy cream sauce being anywhere near remotely good. Boy was I ever wrong!

I will say that choosing both of these items on a weekday was probably a wrong choice. These are probably better reserved for a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, when you have the time to cook and aren't tired and hungry from being at the office all day. That being said, the little more than an hour and 20 minutes prep and cook time was WELL worth the wait. The gratin was actually done first, and the wife snacked on it until the chicken was done. Even better was the fact that she loved the gratin more than she loved the chicken. A feat to replace the desire for veggies in such a devoted carnivore!!

Both recipies today came from the Atkins for Life plan again. Its a pretty neat little recipe box filled with cards that you can sort out and plan a weeks worth of meals with. You can find the entire box on Amazon or other online bookstores.

Tomato, Zucchini and Mushroom Gratin

1 1/2 slices rye bread
2 tablespoons butter
3 cups button mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 medium zucchini, sliced
2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 cup shredded cheese (swiss or other)

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In pan add 1 tbsp butter and cook mushrooms till browned.
3. While mushrooms are cooking, butter a 9X13 dish and put zucchini on the bottom. On top, arrange the tomato slices.
4. Once mushrooms are cooked, arrange over top of tomatoes.
5. Return pan to heat add other tbsp of butter and garlic. Cook till garlic browns and add cream. Allow cream to reduce slightly.
6. Add layer of cheese over top of mushroom. Pour cream sauce over cheese.
7. Chop rye bread into small cubes and arrange over top of cheese and cream.
8. Bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until cream is bubbly and zucchini is tender.

Stuffed Chicken Breast

4 oz pancetta, chopped
1/4 lb mushrooms, shiitake or cremini, chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped
3/4 cup asiago or fontina cheese, shreaded
4 large chicken breasts, butterflied
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp all-purpose or whole wheat flour
salt and pepper to taste.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In medium pan cook onions, pancetta, mushrooms until liquid is evaporated and onions are slightly brown. Set aside and allow to cool.
3. Add chese to the pancetta and mushroom mixture.
4. Spoon 1/4 of mixture per chicken breast into the pocket created on with the butterfly cut.
5. Fold breast and dredge in flour, salt and pepper mixture. Dip into beaten eggs and then dredge through bread crumbs.
6. In medium heated pan add 2 tbsp olive oil and cook chicken for 2-3 minutes per side to slightly brown. Transfer breasts to sheet pan and cook in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center.

Try it! You might like it...or maybe you'll order pizza.

03 January 2010

New Year, New Food

It's the new year! Time to put old things behind you and think about moving forward. For many that means new resolutions and promises to keep over the coming year. For my wife and I, this was no different. Our primary resolution was to eat healthier, expand our culinary horizions and try some different foods; to eat things that we don't normally eat.

I was greatly inspired by the cook, Nupur, over at One Hot Stove and her culinary marathon during the month of December. Why should we spend all this time looking at recipies, drooling over them, and bookmarking them if we're not going to give them a try. It seems pointless. So with her same courage, we are going to try and broaden our tastes, and eat new fruits, veggies and types of meals.

To start the project my wife and I poured over recipies for a few hours, looking for meals that were both healthy, and sounded delicious. We then dilligently arranged our picks into what we feel would be a good "meal plan" for the week and settled on the following:

Sunday - Greek Style Lamb Chops with Swiss Chard and Bacon
Monday - Stuffed Chicken Breast and Rice Pilaf
Tuesday - Barley Vegetable Soup
Wednesday - Meatloaf with Tomato, Zucchini and Mushroom Gratin
Thursday - Spicy Asian Marinated Beef and Asparagus Stir Fry with Rice
Friday - Roasted Chicken with Garlic Potatoes
Saturday - Shitake Chicken Stir Fry

We then made a corresponding grocery shopping list. The list was long, way long, but it was filled with items that we don't find in our fridge, cupboards or pantry that often. The grocery shop together was actually quite fun, and more like a scanvenger hunt, trying to find things like pearled barley, Asian five-spice, and swiss chard.

Tonight's menu was the Greek Style Lamb and Swiss Chard with Bacon. Both my wife and I are a sucker for Greek or Mediterranean
food, but we're not much for thick leafy greens. I have to say that we were both very pleasantly surprised with how things turned out overall. I have never used the oven broiler alone to cook meat, but it did a perfect job on the lamb chops (minus the rolling smoke though the house from the melted fat). I'd definately recommend these recipes to anyone, and I'm sure that we'll eat both of these again, maybe soon.

Greek Style Lamb
Taken from the Weight Watchers TurnAround Program Cookbook. 4 servings.

4 lamb chops (bone in)
3/4 cup plain yogurt (fat free)
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut up
1/4 cup of fresh mint
3 scallions sliced
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
pepper to taste

1. Move oven rack to 3-4 inches below the broiler, and set the broiler to high for preheating.
2. Lay lamb chops out on a greased pan to come to room temp. Season with salt and pepper on both sides and place in the oven. Broil each side for roughly 5 minutes. This should keep the meat a nice medium. Broil for longer if you want the meat more well done.
3. In a blender, combine the yogurt, cucumber, mint, scallions, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and crushed red pepper.
4. Serve lamb chop with sauce from blender spooned on top.

Swiss Chard with Bacon
Taken from the Atkins for Life Kit. 4 servings.

5 slices of thick-cut bacon
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
3/4 lb. of Swiss Chard, washed and chopped into 1 inch strips
1/2 cup canned beans, pinto or navy
1/4 teaspoon of salt
pepper to taste

1. Cook bacon over medium heat in pan till crispy. Remove from pan.
2. In same pan, add garlic to bacon grease till it starts to brown.
3. Add in beans and swiss chard to pan. As the chard starts to wilt, add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Serve once beans have heated through.

I didn't make any modifications to the recipes, though next time I'll maybe add red pepper flake to the chard, and possibly a bit more salt. I'll also probably cut the amount of cucumber in the sauce for the lamb, as it was a bit too runny, even with the cucumbers being seeded. With each recipe making 4 servings, we had enough for lunch tomorrow, or possibly a late-night snack.

Try it! You might like it....or maybe you'll order pizza.