Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cajun Parsnip Fries

These parsnip fries are easy and fast to make and taste delicious!! It took the 3 Things a few bites to warm up to them, but my husband and I devoured the whole tray we had made. Fabulous. I even made a quick dip of curry powder and mayo - tasted out of this world.

1 lb parsnips
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) olive oil
1 tsp (5 mL) Cajun or Tex Mex seasoning blend
salsa or your favourite dipping sauce

Peel parsnips and cut into French-fry-size pieces. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Toss with 1 tsp (5 mL) of the oil; spread out in single layer.

Bake in 375 F oven, flipping once or twice, until golden and tender, 15 to 25 minutes. Toss with remaining oil, seasoning, and salt to taste. Serve with dipping sauce.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Week of December 20, 2009 **The Christmas Edition**

Whew. I am *almost* ready for Christmas. The busiest part of the season is actually over for me - we have no more major parties or events to attend, gifts are all purchased and just need to be wrapped, cards and gifts have been mailed, teacher and other special gifts have been baked, cooked, wrapped and delivered, and the tree is up and decorated. All that is left for me to do is some grocery shopping and a couple more rounds of baking.

Which means I finally have some time to focus on one of the most important aspects of the holidays - the COOKING!!

This is a quiet year at home with just the five of us, so I have arranged a few nights to have friends over for dinner, but Christmas dinner will be just us on our own. I don't think I can muster up the energy to cook a turkey, just for my husband and I (the kids are huge turkey lovers) so I think a roast chicken will be a nice, pleasant alternative. It's still white meat and there will be lots of gravy and potatoes!!

Sunday: Beef Stew home-made bread, Cherry Tomato, Cucumber and Goat Cheese Salad
Monday: Pasta with Shrimp and Broccoli
Tuesday: Sauteed Spinach with Crisp Pancetta
Wednesday: Fresh Pear and Curry Pasta
Thursday: Crockpot Taco Soup
Friday: Roasted Mashed Potatoes and Yams, Roast Chicken
Saturday: Drunken Garlic Pot Roast

I'm also toying with the idea of making these Blueberry Struesel Muffins to eat on Christmas morning and will definitely be doing a few Cucumber Sandwiches for lunches.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday this year!! Enjoy it and relax.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Week of December 6, 2009

The Malaysian Mango Chicken Curry we had last week was easy and delicious. Two out of three kids ate it and loved it, and both of us grown ups thought it was perfect. It will definitely be appearing on our menu plan again in the future!

I'm hoping to get to some of my Christmas baking this week, so I'll add those recipes as I make my way through this festive month.

Sunday: Spaghetti and Meatballs
Monday: Salmon, Potatoes and Green Beans
Tuesday: Avocado Shrimp Salad
Wednesday: Quick Chicken Stew, Cajun Parsnip Fries
Thursday: French Shallot Soup
Friday: Christmas Party Dinner
Saturday: Dinner with friends

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Week of November 30, 2009

I am really hoping to have a little more extra time this week to devote to cooking. I really miss it and our lives have been so "rushed" lately that I've often not had time to prepare the dinners that I've had planned each night. When I get busy (and stressed) I tend to ignore my body's needs and not eat so healthy - which is ridiculous because when does your body need decent nutrients and minerals more than when you're run down and burned out? My goal this week is to load on more fruits and vegetables whenever I can. And to bury my chips in a six foot hole.

Some of you know that I am now writing a new blog dedicated to the Life Organic Harvest Box each week. It's really been a fun experience for me, and I like working with the Life Organic team to see what we can come up with. Please check my new Life Organic Blog each week! I offer tips and recipes based on the contents of the Harvest Box each weekend.

Sunday: Dinner at friends' house, bringing hot artichoke dip as appetizer!
Monday: Potato Leek Soup, Salad
Tuesday: Grilled Chicken with Lemon and Oregeno and Sesame Broccoli
Wednesday: Malaysian Mango Chicken Curry
Thursday: Roasted Apple and Acorn Squash Soup
Friday: Cajun Parsnip Fries, Steak
Saturday: Roast Chicken and Roasted Mashed Potatoes and Yams

Although this menu looks a bit work-intensive, I think I am up for the challenge this week. I'm also hoping to make a batch of healthy granola and some zucchini chocolate chip muffins for the boys' lunches since I still have one more zucchini left.

Although for some I may be late to the holiday parade, I am planning to make my baking lists this week and start buying all the ingredients I need to start making my holiday goodies!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Week of November 22, 2009

I have another extremely busy week ahead since I am attending a craft show next Saturday and am scrambling to make as many cards as I can to bring to the show to sell. This doesn't leave a lot of free time for cooking fancy meals, so I tried to plan a fairly simple week. I picked a couple recipes from the Kraft Canada website and hope they turn out well. The Layered Mexican Bake looks easy and contains ingredients all 3 Things like . . . we love our Mexican food here so hopefully this won't disappoint.

My plan is to start organizing my Christmas baking and truffle making in the next week or so, so I'm not doing it all at once. Wow, novel idea. The truffles were such a huge hit last year that I plan on giving them as gifts to everyone again this season. I'm also looking for a few new recipes to add to my baking list, just to spice things up a little. So if you know of any great family favourites, be sure to let me know.

Sunday: Frozen pizza
Monday: Cayenne-rubbed Chicken with Avocado Salsa
Tuesday: Black Bean Soup
Wednesday: Layered Mexican Bake
Thursday: Tuna Melts with Veggies
Friday: Easy Baked Cheese & Vegetable Twist
Saturday: Leftovers/Order In

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Week of November 15, 2009

I missed posting my menu plan last week because I was extra busy over the weekend, and of course it came back to bite me in the @ss. Dinners were hectic and I scrambled around at the last minute trying to figure out what to make. Whether I like it or not, I thrive on organization and I just don't seem able to cope well not knowing ahead of time what I'm making for dinner.

Alas, here is hoping for a better week this time around!

Sunday: Cream of Broccoli Soup
Monday: Tacos
Tuesday: Spinach Salad with Spicy Shrimp and Mango
Wednesday: Chicken Wings in slow cooker
Thursday: Pasta with Shrimp and Broccoli
Friday: Winter Vegetable Soup (from Everyday Food, November 2009)
Saturday: Sloppy Joes

Friday, November 13, 2009

30-Minute Chili

Although I am a huge fan of chili in my crock pot, I stumbled upon this recipe and decided to give it a try. It ended up being incredibly tasty and so easy and fast to make! Serve it with some fresh crusty bread or rolls, a little shredded cheese, and a dollop of sour cream.

30-Minute Chili
Adapted from Martha Stewart's EveryDay Food
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 pounds ground beef
  • 3 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 bottle beer
  • 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
In a Dutch oven or large (5-quart) heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onions and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add tomato paste, chili powder, chipotles, and cinnamon. Cook, stirring, until the mixture has begun to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add beef, and cook, breaking it up until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes with their juice, beer, and beans. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a rapid simmer. Cook over medium heat until chili has thickened slightly and beans are tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese, if desired.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Week of November 1, 2009

Fall is officially here - meaning cold season has arrived at our house. With a couple of sickies to look after, I didn't get to some of last week's meals, so you'll see them making an appearance on this week's menu plan again. With chillier weather settling in and making itself comfortable around these parts, I'm anxious to get moving on some hot and steaming comfort food. Not always good for the waistline, but usually a safe bet to keep spirits and tummies warm and happy!

Sunday: Paul's Hungarian Goulash
Monday: Garlic Scape Pesto (from freezer) with pasta
Tuesday: 30-Minute Chili
Wednesday: Easy Herbed Grilled Salmon
Thursday: Crock-Pot Pasta Fagioli
Friday: Chicken Enchiladas
Saturday: Lemon Chicken with Green Olives

With a few squash in my kitchen this week, I'm thinking I'll make more Roasted Apple and Acorn Squash Soup . . . . because I'm not feeling all that adventurous and don't think I feel like trying any new squash recipes this week.

Last week was Thing 2's fourth birthday and I tried my hand at making his birthday cake. It was nothing fancy but turned out quite well and all the kids loved it. If you're interested, check out our Pumpkin Birthday Cake on my other blog.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Week of October 26, 2009

I'm a bit late posting this week as we had a whirlwind weekend full of activities, including Thing 2's fourth birthday party yesterday. Menu planning slipped a bit on my priority list.

Here is this week's menu:

Monday: Spaghetti and Meatballs
Tuesday: Out for Thing 2's birthday dinner
Wednesday: Cayenne-rubbed Chicken with Avocado Salsa
Thursday: 30-Minute Chili
Friday: Slow Cooker Yam and Red Pepper Soup
Saturday: Chicken Enchiladas

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Week of October 18, 2009

We're looking at a fairly regular week this week. Here's our menu plan!

Sunday: Leftovers
Monday: More Potato Leek Soup
Tuesday: Spicy Sauteed Chickpeas and Beef with Cilantro
Wednesday: Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Thursday: Beef Stew with Noodles
Friday: Roasted Salmon
Saturday: Out for dinner

Last weekend we were in Oakville spending Thanksgiving with my husband's family. I was in charge of bringing one side dish to the meal, and I made this Spinach and Cheese Puff Casserole.
It was a huge hit! Everyone loved it and there was barely any left for seconds. The entire meal was delicious, as Paul's cousin Anne is a fabulous cook.

I am now writing a weekly Life Organic blog post at the newly-created Life Organic Blog. So Life Organic readers, be sure to check out the new blog weekly for recipe ideas for your Harvest Box!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Potato Leek Soup

(Best Ever) Potato Leek Soup

8 potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 cups chicken broth
1 pound bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 leeks, sliced and chopped in small pieces
1 cup heavy cream (I always substitute light cream or even milk)
  1. In a large saucepan, bring potatoes and chicken broth to a boil. Cook until potatoes are tender. Meanwhile, place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, reserving 3 tablespoons of grease and set aside. Saute the leeks in the frying pan with the reserved bacon grease for about 5 minutes.
  2. When the potatoes are tender, stir in the fried leeks, cream and bacon. Stir to blend and remove from heat. Serve hot.
This is seriously the best ever potato leek soup I have ever had - anywhere, made by anyone. And I don't normally like to toot my own horn, but anyone to whom I have ever served this has left the table with a happy glazed look in their eyes, and a very content stomach.

Give it a try, serve a bowl up on a crisp, cold fall day.

I dare you.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Week of October 4, 2009

This is our Life Organic Harvest Box for this week:

I'm really in desperate need to roast a chicken, as I have been making a lot of recipes which call for chicken stock . . . and I don't have any chicken stock so I need to get cracking and make some.

I was so pleased to see a bright butternut squash peering out of my harvest box this week, as one of my fall favourite's is the apple and butternut squash soup below. It is very, very tasty! I had tremendous success with last week's soups - both the Potato Leek Soup and the Roasted Apple and Acorn Squash Soup were to die for. We gobbled them up in no time and the kids even at them.

This is a short week for us as we are heading out of town on Friday to spend Thanksgiving weekend with family outside of Toronto. We're all looking forward to a fabulous visit with lots of delicious food!

Sunday: Beef Skewers with Peanut Dipping Sauce
Monday: Roast Chicken with Green Bean Salad
Tuesday: Apple and Butternut Squash Soup
Wednesday: Sandwiches or Leftovers with arugula salad
Thursday: Roasted Salmon
Friday: Out of town for Thanksgiving
Saturday: Out of town for Thanksgiving

Monday, September 28, 2009

Indian Chicken in Light Sauce

Although I had posted this Indian chicken recipe on my menu plan a few times before, I never actually got around to making it as it turned out to be something more time-consuming than I had anticipated. I finally had a quiet, rainy afternoon this week which afforded me ample time to whip up this Chicken in Light Sauce dish from none other than the best Indian food cookbook out there. We are definitely a family who likes spicy food, but I took it easy on the spice this time and didn't add the optional hot red peppers. It was absolutely delicious, although I was urged by my husband to add a little extra *heat* next time I make it. I have to say, it really tasted like authentic Indian food.

Chicken in Light Sauce
- from An Invitation to Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey

3 T tomato sauce
3 T plain yogurt
4 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
A piece of fresh ginger, 1-inch cube, peeled and coarsely chopped
4 chicken legs
1 whole chicken breast
6 T vegetable oil
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
5 whole cardamom pods
5 whole cloves
2 hot dried red peppers (optional)
1 t ground turmeric
1 t salt
1/8 t freshly ground pepper
1 T lemon juice

In a small bowl, combine tomato sauce, yogurt, and 1 cup of water. Mix well and set aside.

Put chopped garlic and ginger into the container of an electric blender, along with 2 T of water. Blend until you have a smooth paste. Cut chicken into serving portions: divide legs into drumstick and thigh, and quarter the breast. Remove skin from pieces of chicken and pat dry.

Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed 10-12 inch casserole-type pot over medium-high heat. Put in chicken pieces, a few at a time, and brown on all sides. When each batch turns a golden brown, remove with slotted spoon and do the next batch. When all chicken pieces have been done, put the cinnamon, bay leaves, cardamom, cloves and red pepper into the same oil. Stir once. The spices will darken immediately. Now pour in the paste from the blender and add the turmeric. Stir and fry about one minute.

Next, put in the browned chicken pieces, the mixture of tomato sauce, yogurt and water, salt and pepper, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat, and simmer gently for 20-25 minutes, turning chicken pieces a few at a time.

Uncover pot, raise flame to medium, and cook 5-7 minutes or until sauce is reduced to half, turning chicken pieces over gently.

Serve with rice.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Week of September 27, 2009

Ready to check out this week's Harvest Box from Life Organic?

Sunday: Crockpot Taco Soup
Monday: Quesadillas with chicken and peppers, salad with baby asian mix
Tuesday: Potato Leek Soup
Wednesday: Spaghetti and Meatballs
Thursday: Roasted Apple and Acorn Squash Soup
Friday: Slow Cooker South-Western Pulled Beef, sugar snap peas
Saturday: O'Brien Sausage Skillet (something new I came across that looked interesting)

With this week's broccoli I am planning to make some Cream of Broccoli Soup to put in the freezer. It is great for lunches and I really like being able to pull something out of the freezer and quickly be able to reheat it. Not to mention it's completely delicious!

Last week's Crock-Pot Applesauce was a huge hit - it was so completely delicious that we ate it in two days. It is absolutely the best straight from the crock-pot when it's steamy and hot. It literally tastes like liquid apple pie melting in your mouth. I plan to make another big batch in the crock-pot tomorrow, at which point I will also make some Apple Flax Muffins.

I have some over-ripe bananas on my counter, so I think I'll give this Chocolate Chip Banana Bread a try. As I've said before, the Things will eat *anything* with chocolate chips in it.

And last, but not least, my friend Konnie sent me this recipe this week and I decided I'd give it a try. She said her family all loved it and they served it one night with rice, one night with potatoes, and a third time on a bun. It looks tasty and easy!

Slow-Cooker South-Western Pulled Beef

2 tbsp vegetable oil

4 lb(2Kg) Beef Cross Rib or Boneless Blade Pot Roast

1 pkg (250ml) Knorr beef broth

1 can (28oz) EACH crushed tomatoes and whole tomatoes

1 pouch Lipton Recipe Onion or Onion Roasted Garlic Soup Mix

2 tbsp EACH tomato paste, chili powder and ground cumin

¼ tsp(1ml) EACH black and cayenne pepper

2 tbsp all purpose flour

  1. Heat oil in deep skillet over med-high heat; brown beef all over, turning with tongs, transfer to slow-cooker, drain fat.
  2. Reduce heat to medium, add broth, tomatoes, lipton soup mix, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, black and cayenne pepper to skillet. Bring to boil over med-high heat, stirring up any brown bits. Pour over beef. Cover and cook on low setting for 8 to 10 hours until beef is fork tender.
  3. Skim fat from liquid ( I didn’t have hardly any). Leave meat in sauce, remove twine. Whisk flour into ¼ cup cold water; whisk into sauce in slow cooker. Cover and cook on high, stirring once, until thickened, about 15 minutes. Use two forks to pull the beef into shreds.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Week of September 21, 2009

Here is a peek inside our Life Organic bucket for this week:

Fresh local corn, cantaloupe, blueberries, black seedless grapes, broccoli, baby asian mix, arugula, coloured chards, cherry and yellow pear tomatoes, mini orange peppers and a nice head of garlic! Looks delicious, doesn't it?

On top of all this, we have dozens of apples after having spent our Sunday picking apples at nearby Mountain Orchards. So I plan on spending some time this week searching for new and exciting (and tasty) apple recipes.

Some of my apple plans include:

Crock-Pot Applesauce
Apple and Butternut Squash Soup
Fresh Meusli with Apples and Almonds
Curried Apples and Chicken
Cinnamon Apple Pork Medallions
Apple Cinnamon Cake
Classic Apple Pie
Apple Crisp

Sunday: roast chicken, potatoes, corn, sauteed swiss chard*
Monday: Salmon with Lemon and Cucumber
Tuesday: Arugula Salad with Grilled Chicken, Corn, Tomatoes and Blue Cheese
Wednesday: Pasta with Shrimp and Broccoli
Thursday: Leftovers or Sandwiches
Friday: Hurried Goulash with Egg Noodles
Saturday: At a friend's for a birthday party

* I have found the best way to eat swiss chard is to saute sliced chard (leaves and stems) with a little olive oil and minced garlic, then season with salt and pepper. It's incredibly good for you and is packed with nutrients!

I'm planning on using our blueberries in a new blueberry muffin recipe I just found . . . it's a little healthier than my other recipe as it contains more whole wheat flour. (You have to scroll down a bit to get to the blueberry muffin recipe.)

Enjoy your week!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Week of September 13, 2009

I know I have mentioned several times on this blog that we are part of a food delivery service with Life Organic in Ottawa. Every Friday they deliver fresh, organic produce to our doorstep and I then plan my week's menu accordingly, based on what items we received that particular weekend.

Here is a look at our bucket for this week.

We received one of the season's first acorn squash - a sure sign fall is on its way! Before we had children, I was never a big squash eater. However, I have slowly grown to really enjoy it's flavour and versatility. All 3 Things ate pureed squash when they were babies and loved it. Here are a couple basic ways to use an acorn squash :

Basic Acorn Squash
Roasted Apple and Acorn Squash Soup (also a good way to use some of our fresh local apples)

We also received a cauliflower this week, and while the 3 Things love their broccoli, they are not fans of cauliflower. I'm hoping the cheesy baked cauliflower recipe below will change their minds! I'm looking forward to our warm spinach salad to use this week's spinach - it's definitely a huge favourite of ours.

I was happy to see we are still receiving local blueberries this season. I'll be sure to use those in yet one more batch of the Lemon Blueberry muffins and we will continue to sprinkle them over our cereal at breakfast each morning.

Sunday: Leftover Tacos
Monday: Warm Spinach Salad with Bacon, Tomato and Pecans
Tuesday: Cheesy Baked Cauliflower
Wednesday: Slow Cooker Tex-Mex Chicken and Beans
Thursday: Macaroni and Cheese
Friday: Thai Beef with Chiles and Basil over Coconut Rice
Saturday: : Chicken in Light Sauce

I tried this recipe a few weeks ago and we all loved it - all three kids and the husband ate it. That's a huge feat in our home!

Thai Beef with Chiles and Basil over Coconut Rice

1 1/4 cups jasmine rice
1 can coconut milk
coarse salt
2 T plus 1 t fish sauce
2 T plus 1 t soy sauce
1 t sugar
1 T vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 long hot peppers, seeded and sliced into 2 inch matchsticks
1 1/4 pounds ground beef
1 cup loosely packed torn fresh basil leaves
lime wedges, for serving

1. In a medium saucepan, combine, rice coconut milk, 3/4 cup water, and 1/2 t salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed, about 25 minutes.

2. When rice is almost done, combine fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar in a small bowl. Heat a cast iron skillet or wok over high. Add oil and heat, add garlic and half the chiles. Cook, stirring constantly, 15 seconds. Add beef and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until completely browned, about 4 minutes. Add soy mixture and cook 30 seconds. Add basil and remaining chiles and stir to combine. Serve beef over coconut rice with lime wedges.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Week of September 6, 2009

Monday: Leftovers or easy sandwiches
Grilled Chicken with Lemon and Oregano
Bacon and Cheese Omelet
Spaghetti Sauce with Ground Beef
Late Summer Vegetable Soup
Saturday: Out at community corn roast

I don't often cook with oregano, but I have a lot in my herb garden so I was excited to come across this grilled chicken recipe (Tuesday) and am excited to give it a try. After a summer of WAY too much red meat on the barbecue, I am hoping to start cooking more chicken and seafood.

With local blueberries still in full force around Ottawa, I've been making lots of Lemon Blueberry muffins for the 3 Things. These muffins are pretty healthy and very easy and fast to make (I can often whip them up just before the kids get up in the morning and have them hot out of the oven for breakfast.

Another muffin favourite around here are these Zucchini Chocolate Chip muffins that I have been making for almost two years now. Everywhere I take them people rave about them and my kids ask me every 3-4 days for "more of those chocolate chip muffins". Little do they know (because thankfully they can't read yet!) I often nearly double the zucchini and put at least 1 1/2 to 2 cups in!! These are DELICIOUS, and also not very difficult to make (grating the zucchini is a bit tediuos and watch those finger nails as you get to the end!).

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup shredded zucchini
1/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Combine egg, oil, milk, lemon juice and vanilla; mix well. Stir into dry ingredients. Add zucchini, chocolate chips and walnuts. Fill greased muffin tin. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until muffins are golden brown on the top.

We are all over tomatoes at this time of year and aside from our daily dose of cheese and tomato sandwiches, I like to try a different tomato salad every week or so. This is on my radar for this week:

Avocado Tomato Salad

2 Hass Avocados from Mexico, diced small
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
3 tablespoons sweet onion, diced small
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Salt to taste
1 head baby red romaine lettuce, trimmed and left as whole leaves
1 medium head frisee, washed and chopped
1 bunch watercress, washed and chopped
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, gently mix, and season with salt to taste. If preferred, add more cilantro and fresh lime juice to taste.
  2. Refrigerate for thirty minutes prior to serving.
  3. Just before serving, toss salad with romaine, frisee and watercress. Season to taste with salt and fresh black pepper. Serve immediately.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Week of August 30, 2009

School starts tomorrow morning around these parts, and what better time to get back to reality and start planning my weekly menus again? Taking the summer off was exactly what I needed . . . we relaxed and cooked on the barbecue a lot, entertained with friends, ate cereal for supper occasionally, and thoroughly enjoyed all the local summer produce Ottawa has to offer.

But I am starting to miss my menu plans, and I know it will make grocery shopping and planning my week so much easier. Both Thing 1 and Thing 2 will be in school this year, going for the morning and coming home at lunch time. So I need to plan some new and interesting healthy lunches this year, as we will all be eating together. My other goal for this school year is to get back to basics a little bit and start cooking some simpler, kid-friendly meals. Nothing puts a damper on your evening like cooking something exciting and elaborate and having all three of your kids turn their noses up at it and not eat it. I really need to explore some new meals that are easy to make, yet tasty enough that all five of us will eat it.

Sunday: BBQ Ribs, Double Tomato Bruschetta, Cherry Tomato Salad
Monday: Quesadillas
Tuesday: Chicken in Light Sauce
Wednesday: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Thursday: Smoky Beef Tacos
Friday: Out of town
Saturday: Out of town

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Week of July 12, 2009

My menu planning has slipped lately as we've been so busy (and lazy at the same time) with our new summer schedule. NOT that I'm complaining! Sitting back with a cold beer or glass of wine while throwing some burgers on the barbecue is a great way to spend my evenings, for sure.

We have a couple of the Things' cousins visiting this week so I have some good meals planned.

Sunday: Fajitas (on the barbecue)
Monday: Grilled Salmon, roasted potatoes, grilled asparagus
Tuesday: Garlic Scape Pesto tossed with pasta, salad
Wednesday: Arugula Salad with Grilled Chicken, Corn, Tomatoes and Blue Cheese
Thursday: Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Pine Nuts
Friday: Freeze-Ahead Lasagna Primavera
Saturday: Strawberry Cream Cake

I have made both the S'more Cookies and Rocky Road Brownies before and they were big summer hits with kids and grown-ups alike, so I'm hoping to make these in the next week or two as we have some parties/functions/barbecues to attend.

I also have this Buttermilk and Herb Marinated Chicken on my radar possibly for next week as it looks incredibly easy and is something I could potentially see all three Things eating.

Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Pine Nuts
- from Martha Stewart's EveryDay Food Magazine

Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 garlic clove
2 T olive oil
8 ounces angel hair pasta
2 T pine nuts, toasted if desired

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, garlic and oil in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Let stand for at least 10 minutes.

Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente; drain, and return to pot. Add tomato mixture, and toss to combine. Serve sprinkled with pine nuts.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Week of June 14, 2009

We were out of town last weekend, and I didn't get to my menu plan as I had a horrible sore throat and didn't cook much last week. I'm hoping this week is a different story! Here's what we have planned:

Sunday: Smokey Beef Tacos
Monday: Leftovers
Tuesday: Asian Noodle Salad with Chicken and Cilantro
Wednesday: Out at Preschool Barbecue
Thursday: Cayenne-Rubbed Chicken with Avocado Salsa
Friday: Grilled Steak with Sesame Broccoli
Saturday: At a friend's for a Barbecue

Seeing as we have a ridiculous amount of rhubarb growing in our backyard, I have been on the lookout for some new recipes. I'm not a big fan of rhubarb, so if I'm going to eat it, it must be paired with another flavour to somewhat disguise the rhubarb tart-ness. I'm liking the looks of this Rhubarb Rasberry Crisp, and also the Rhubarb and Blackberry Snack Cake.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Linguine with White Clam Sauce

I found this recipe for Linguine with Clams and Bacon a few months ago and was disappointed that after what seemed like eons searching I couldn't find white clam sauce anywhere in Ottawa. So I searched around on the web a bit and tried a few things, and eventually came up with this recipe that I really loved. In all honestly, I LOVED it and thought it was possibly the best linguine with clam sauce I've ever had . . . but my non-East-Coast husband was not a huge fan of the meal. He was respectful enough to eat a plateful, though. The Things weren't instant lovers of it either, but I didn't really care.

Cuz like I said. I LOVED IT!!!

After a long visit in Nova Scotia this summer, I'll have these kids eating clams yet, mark my words.

    • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
    • 1 large clove garlic, minced
    • 2 tablespoons flour
    • 2 6.5 ounce cans of chopped clams
    • 1/4 cup dry white wine
    • Milk
    • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
    • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1 pound linguini cooked al dente
Cook the linguine to al dente.
  1. While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce
  2. Drain clams, reserving the liquid.
  3. Combine clam juice with milk to equal two cups of liquid.
  4. Melt butter in a small saucepan.
  5. Add garlic and cook for one minute.
  6. Add the flour and cook for two minutes.
  7. Add parsley, thyme, salt and pepper and simmer for ten minutes.
  8. Add the clams and heat through.
  9. Serve over linguine.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Week of May 31, 2009

This week is shaping up to be incredibly busy. We are heading out of town on Friday morning for a wedding in Toronto, and our weeknights are jam-packed with activities.

I received leeks this week in my produce box, and after searching I found this great recipe for Grilled Leeks (Tuesday). I'm hoping it's good as I am usually fairly mundane when I cook with Leeks . . . we are die-hard fans of the most-unhealthy Potato Leek Soup recipe in the world. I have a hunch grilling the leeks will be better for our longevity than the soup!

My mom arrives on Thursday (to generously watch the boys for us while we are away in Toronto) and I'm hoping to make my Indian Chicken recipe for her that night. I didn't get a chance to make it when I posted a few weeks ago, and I'm certain it's going to be delicious.

Sunday: Baked Spaghetti
Monday: Pasta with Shrimp and Broccoli
Tuesday: Grilled Leeks and Grilled Salmon on BBQ, Salad
Wednesday: Out at Elementary School BBQ
Thursday: Indian Chicken in Light Sauce
Friday: Out of town
Saturday: Out of town
Sunday: Out of town

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Home-made Granola

I became addicted to this granola about a year ago when I started making Beth's recipe. Our family loves it, and I really enjoy mixing up the ingredients and adding new things each time I make it. It's so easy, SO delicious, and so much cheaper than buying pre-made granola.

5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup sliced almonds or other nuts (I often use pecans)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey
1 cup dried fruit or raisins
1-2 T ground flax seed
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl combine the oats, coconut, flax seed, oil and honey.

Pour onto a large baking sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until the granola is golden.

Allow to cool, stirring occasionally. Add the dried fruit or raisins if using. Mix well and enjoy as a cereal, on top of yogurt, or with a bowl of fruit.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Week of May 24, 2009

Sunday: Linguine with Clams and Bacon
Monday: Quick and Easy Stir fry (to use up veggies)
Tuesday: Chicken and Bacon Shish Kabobs
Wednesday: Roast Chicken with Lemons and Fennel
Thursday: Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad, sandwiches
Friday: Pizza - daddy is out of town
Saturday: Something easy and fun while daddy is away

Looking for some good sweet potato recipes? We've had a lot lately so I've been searching for some good and fun recipes. Ontario Sweet Potato growers offer a huge list on their web site.

I also found this recipe for Turkey sliders with avocado and tomato when I was browsing this weekend, and I hope to try it one night soon.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Savoury Sweet Potato Sticks

For more What's Cooking Wednesday, visit Shan at Tales from the Fairy Blogmother . . .

I found this recipe on the back of a box of Rice Krispies . . . oh, yes I did!! I made them spur of the moment last week, and what a hit.

They were FABULOUS. Tasty, crisp and melt-in-your-mouth good. They will definitely be frequenting our dinner table in the future.

Savoury Sweet Potato Sticks
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes
  • 3 cups KELLOGG'S RICE KRISPIES cereal, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 egg whites
  • 4 tablespoons water
  1. Wash sweet potatoes (or peel if desired). Cut lengthwise into 1 cm (1/2-inch) slices. Cut slices into 1 cm (1/2-inch) sticks.
  2. In large plate or shallow pan, mix together crushed cereal and seasonings. Place flour on second plate. In medium bowl, beat egg whites and water.
  3. Coat potatoes with flour, shaking off excess. Next dip in egg mixture, then coat with cereal mixture. Place in single layer on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve hot with salsa or roasted garlic mayonnaise if desired.

Week of May 18, 2009

I'm late with this week's menu . . . a long weekend always blows me out of the water and messes up my entire weekly schedule!!

Sunday: Take Out
Monday: Barbecued steaks, potatoes
Tuesday: Grilled Chicken Breasts, fries
Wednesday: Spaghetti and Meatballs, salad
Thursday: Yellow String Beans and Tomatoes (below), Home-made burgers
Friday: Spicy, Sauteed Chickpeas, Beef and Cilantro
Saturday: Pork Carnitas

I found this recipe for yellow string beans in my weekly newsletter e-mail from Life Organic, the company that delivers our weekly box of fresh organic food. I'm excited to try it because I have no originality when it comes to cooking beans . . . I usually just boil them slightly and serve them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Kinda boring.

Yellow String Beans and Tomatoes

1 lb. yellow string beans, trimmed of blossom ends and cut in half horizontally
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 fat cloves garlic, peeled and chopped finely
1/2 large onion, peeled and sliced thinly
1 (14.5 oz.) can of diced tomatoes
Splash of white wine
Splash of rice or cider vinegar
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a vigorous boil. Add beans and cook 6-8 minutes, just until they are crisp-tender. Drain and plunge into cold water to stop beans from cooking.

Heat oil in large skillet. Add garlic and stir constantly for one minute. Add onion and cook another 4-5 minutes, or until onion is soft. Add tomatoes and white wine and cook until heated through. Add beans back to skillet, along with vinegar, thyme and salt and pepper. Heat through and serve warm or cold.

Serve over salad greens for 4 dinner servings or as a side salad to 6 people.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Warm Spinach Salad with Bacon, Tomato, and Pecans

I'm participating in What's Cooking Wednesday at Tales from the Fairy Blogmother!!

This is a favourite of ours that we've been eating for months. It's a great way to get lots of spinach in our diet, because we eat the salad by heaping bowlfuls! The kids love the bacon and the pecans, although don't always eat the entire salad.

- adapted from Martha Stewart

  • 3/4 cup pecan halves (smaller pieces work fine too)
  • 10 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 pint (2 cups) grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup white-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 to 3 bunches (1 1/2 pounds total) flat-leaf spinach, trimmed, cleaned, and dried
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread pecans on a rimmed baking sheet, and toast in oven 5-10 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons fat from skillet.
  3. Add onion to skillet; cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add tomatoes, vinegar, and sugar; simmer until liquid thickens slightly and tomatoes are heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Don't overcook the tomatoes or they will quickly become soggy and "wet".
  4. Place spinach in a large bowl, and pour hot tomato-onion mixture over; toss quickly to coat and wilt spinach. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with reserved pecans and bacon.
  5. Enjoy!!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Week of May 10, 2009

Last week's meals were all fantastic, something must have been right in the universe because all seemed to work out well. With the nice weather upon us meal construction is extremely difficult - we are often outside playing at the park across the street until 5:30, so it's imperative that I have most of the prep done ahead of time. If we eat supper much past 6:00 the kids are just too hungry, and that quickly becomes not fun for anyone.

Also, Mondays and Wednesdays are going to be busy nights for the next few months. Thing 1 has T-ball Mondays and Wednesdays at 6:00, and Paul has softball on Mondays as well, so I need to somehow have dinner on the table by 5:30 on each of those nights.

Sunday: Out for dinner, bringing Easy Arugula Salad
Monday: Soup and Sandwiches
Tuesday: Chicken with Goat Cheese and Arugula
Wednesday: Refried Bean Quesadillas
Thursday: Linguine with Clams and Bacon
Friday: Home-made pizza
Saturday: Chicken in Light Sauce

We're enjoying trying new Indian dishes lately, so I'm going to give this one a whirl this week from the number one expert in Indian cooking herself.

Chicken in Light Sauce - from An Invitation to Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey

3 T tomato sauce
3 T plain yogurt
4 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
A piece of fresh ginger, 1-inch cube, peeled and coarsely chopped
4 chicken legs
1 whole chicken breast
6 T vegetable oil
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
5 whole cardamom pods
5 whole cloves
2 hot dried red peppers (optional)
1 t ground turmeric
1 t salt
1/8 t freshly ground pepper
1 T lemon juice

In a small bowl, combine tomato sauce, yogurt, and 1 cup of water. Mix well and set aside.

Put chopped garlic and ginger into the container of an electric blender, along with 2 T of water. Blend until you have a smooth paste. Cut chicken into serving portions: divide legs into drumstick and thigh, and quarter the breast. Remove skin from pieces of chicken and pat dry.

Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed 10-12 inch casserole-type pot over medium-high heat. Put in chicken pieces, a few at a time, and brown on all sides. When each batch turns a golden brown, remove with slotted spoon and do the next batch. When all chicken pieces have been done, put the cinnamon, bay leaves, cardamom, cloves and red pepper into the same oil. Stir once. The spices will darken immediately. Now pour in the paste from the blender and add the turmeric. Stir and fry about one minute.

Next, put in the browned chicken pieces, the mixture of tomato sauce, yogurt and water, salt and pepper, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat, and simmer gently for 20-25 minutes, turning chicken pieces a few at a time.

Uncover pot, raise flame to medium, and cook 5-7 minutes or until sauce is reduced to half, turning chicken pieces over gently.

Serve with rice.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Week of May 3, 2009

After a couple weeks of possibly the worst flu ever hitting our entire household, I am back on the menu planning bandwagon and am ready and able to eat real food again. Looking forward to a week of delicious meals again!!

Sunday: Pasta with Shrimp and Broccoli
Monday: Leftovers/Freezer Meal while daddy is out
Tuesday: Fresh Pear and Curry Pasta
Wednesday: Indian-Spiced Braised Chicken
Thursday: Quick Meat Sauce
Friday: Home-made Pizza
Saturday: Cinnamon-Oat Pancakes - a new twist on our regular pancakes

I'm also looking forward to trying out this Blueberry-Almond Granola this week too. It's very similar to the regular recipe that I already use, so hopefully the family will love it.

Indian-spiced Braised Chicken

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
2 T tomato paste
1 T grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t ground coriander
1/4 t cayenne pepper
coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 t garam masala
cooked white rice, for serving

In a 5-6 quart slow cooker, stir together chicken, onion, tomatoes, tomato paste, ginger, garlic, coriander, and cayenne pepper; season with salt and pepper.

Cook on high four hours or on low eight hours until fork-tender. Stir in yogurt, cilantro, and garam masala. Serve with rice.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ham, Egg and Cheese Bake

Finally found a great recipe to help rid us of some of our Easter ham . . .

Ham, Egg and Cheese Bake
(this is adapted from a Rachael Ray recipe that my sister sent me)

4-6 slices bread
8 oz ham, coarsely chopped
2 1/2 cups cheddar and gruyere cheese
3 T fresh herbs, I used parsley
6 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 2 quart baking dish. Layer the bread along the bottom of the dish, filling the bottom. Layer ham, 2 cups of cheese and 2 T of herbs on top of the bread. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, 1/4 t salt and 1/2 t pepper. Pour into the dish and top with the tomato slices in an even layer.

Bake the eggs until nearly set, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and herbs on top and bake until golden.

I didn't remember this last step b/c we were particularly rushed tonight. Still tasted great!! I also added a little Dijon mustard at the last minute . . . thought it gave it a nice zing.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Week of April 12, 2009

We had a week full of delicious and fairly simple meals last week - I love a week when there are no duds. My Easter dinner was a far bigger success than I had anticipated. I'd been sick for days with a horrible sore throat and don't know how I pulled it all together. That being said, it was fairly easy, actually. The ham turned out perfectly (time to admit that I have never cooked a ham before in my life - we have never been big ham eaters) and both Paul and his mom raved about it. The potato and leek galette was also delicious - I will absolutely be making that again. It was a tasty compliment to the ham.

Any tips on what to do with mounds and mounds of leftover ham? We will have lots of ham sandwiches, but aside from that I don't have any fresh ideas. I found this Pork Quesadilla recipe from Everyday Food, maybe I'll give it a shot. Omelets with chopped ham are probably another good choice.

Sunday: this Easter Dinner menu
Monday: Ham leftovers
Tuesday: Potato Leek Soup
Wednesday: Pasta with Pesto and Tomatoes
Thursday: Meal from freezer
Friday: Paprika Roast Chicken
Saturday: Linguine with Clams and Bacon

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Week of April 5, 2009

The curried lentils from last week were a nice surprise. For a vegetarian meal, it was very filling and completely appropriate for a main course. I served it with Naan bread from Costco, lightly toasted in the oven with olive oil, and a salad. I used dried lentils and home-made tomato sauce, although the recipe called for canned - it seemed perfect so I don't think the swap mattered (and was obviously cheaper and healthier).

I didn't get to the Linguine with Clams and Bacon - the day just got away from me - so I hope to do it next weekend.

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, Caesar Salad
Monday: Chicken with Goat Cheese and Arugula, Snap peas
Tuesday: Basic Omelet
Wednesday: Greek Chicken Cutlets
Thursday: Freezer Meal
Friday: Farfalle with Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese
Saturday: Linguine with Clams and Bacon

Since I am not always the most adept omelet maker, I decided to go back to the basics and follow this simple recipe I found on the Everyday Food web site. We like omelets for a refreshing, light dinner some nights, and it annoys the heck out of me when it turns out runny - or worse, burnt.

I am thinking of going with this Easter Dinner menu for next Sunday. We'll see - not sure I love the idea of the apricot mustard sauce for the ham, I might try something with a simpler flavour. But the potato and leek galette is intriguing me so I'm going to give it a try!!

Also hoping to try these Peanut Butter Granola Bars and see if the kids like them - fun and easy snacks are always on my radar!! They gobbled up the zucchini chocolate chip muffins last week, so I will make more this week. I doubled the zucchini measurement and the boys didn't even blink.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Pesto Sauce and Freezing Tips

I really like this pesto sauce recipe from From Mommy's Kitchen. I've made it several times and the family always loves it - it's a nice easy sauce to mix with almost any type of pasta. I like to make it in big batches (when and if I can ever accumulate that much basil) and then freeze it in small servings so I can take them out quickly and serve them on short notice.

If I have learned anything cooking so much in the past couple years, it's to make extra of what you are cooking . . . and FREEZE it. I just adore having a freezer full of food for weeks when I don't have time to cook, have other things going on . . . or am, truthfully, completely lazy. I have my Sharpie and masking tape on hand in my kitchen drawer, so I can always label my items by type and by date. It makes it much easier to grab what I'm looking for quickly if I'm not holding the container up to the light trying to decipher what *may* or may not be inside.

For things like soup and chicken stock, I have learned to use ziploc bags, and lay them flat in the freezer because they take up far less space than a bulkier container. I label the front so I know what I have, and then I usually defrost such liquid items in a big bowl of hot water.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Week of March 29, 2009

Last week's smoky beef tacos were good - I think they might have been amazing had I not made a tiny error in cooking it. One so embarrassing I am unsure I can bring myself to share it here. Needless to say, it was a little dried out, but I suspect in following the recipe more carefully, they would have been spectacular. And despite my typing in "slow cooker" beef tacos, they were actually not cooked in the slow cooker, they were done in my dutch oven. Hmmmmm.

I'm excited to try Beth's Linguine with Clams and Bacon this week, as it has been in my "to make" pile for ages and I haven't gotten around to it. My husband is not a big clams guy (and I was born and raised on the East Coast of Canada . . . need I say more???) so I'm hoping he will be open to giving it a try. I'll point out that it has bacon . . . perhaps his love affair with bacon will allow him to see past the pesky tiny shellfish!

Sunday: Fast Pasta with Tomatoes
Monday: Spinach Salad with Spicy Shrimp and Mango
Tuesday: Crockpot Taco Soup
Wednesday: Cayenne-rubbed Chicken with Avocado Salsa
Thursday: Curried Lentils in tomato sauce
Friday: Home-made Pizza (a Friday night favourite now)
Saturday: Linguine with Clams and Bacon

Since I received a lot of zucchini in our organic basket this week, I'm going to make these zucchini-chocolate chip muffins. I made them several times last summer and they were a big hit. The boys didn't even notice the zucchini and gobbled them up.

I've been finding my boring and monotonous lunches a little more than I can take, so if the mood strikes I'm going to try this pressed mozzarella and tomato sandwich one mid-day this week.

Fast Pasta with Tomatoes
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
roughly 3 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
penne or rotini pasta
1 cup grated mozzarella or other cheese

In a.m. - combine tomatoes, basil, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Cover and leave to marinate on counter.

Later - cook pasta according to directions. Drain and return to pot. Add marinated veggies. Add cheese, toss, cover. Set aside for five minutes, until cheese melts slightly. Serve with salad and a baguette!