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Showing posts from 2012

Creamy Smoked Salmon Pasta with Dill and Capers

As a person who grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest,   I have to tell you, I have eaten a lot of salmon over the years. Most summers of my childhood were spent camping on Vancouver Island where my parents loved to go fishing. My father would often head out in the wee hours of the morning and not return until it was dark. Every year we would end up with a boat-load of salmon, some of which were frozen, some were canned and some were smoked. I think I fell in love with smoked salmon at first bite. I guess I have always been a bit of a strange one - how many kids  would list smoked salmon as one of their all- time favorite foods?

Creamy Smoked Salmon Pasta with Dill and Capers

recipe source: Beer. Butter. Bacon
servings: 2 to 4

8 oz. uncooked penne pasta
1 Tbsp. butter
1 large shallot, minced
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock
4 oz. light cream cheese
1 1/2 Tbsp. capers
chopped fresh dill, about 1 Tbsp.
juice and zest of one lemon
about 4 oz. smoked salmon, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to t…

Greek Pasta Salad

I LOVE Greek food! Beautiful, simple ingredients that are just jam-packed with flavour.  Sweet, juicy grape tomatoes, salty feta, crunchy peppers and cucumbers, rich earthy Kalamata olives. This refreshing pasta salad really packs a punch!

Greek Pasta Salad
serves 4-6

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
the zest of one lemon
1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, patted dry
4 Tbsp.  white wine vinegar
4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 Tbsp. canola oil
1- 2 tsp. fresh oregano leaves or 3/4 tsp. dried
salt and pepper to taste

Puree all dressing ingredients in a  food processor or blender.

8 oz. uncooked small pasta ( I used small shells)
8 oz. red and yellow grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
4 oz, pitted Kalamata olives
small handful chopped fresh parsley
2 small cucumbers, diced
4 oz. brine packed feta cheese, crumbled

Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain pasta. Spread on greased baking sheet to cool down. Toss with dressing. Add the remainin…

Rice Noodle Salad with Shrimp

Too hot to cook? Cold, rice noodle salads are perfect for those dog days of summer when the last thing in the world you feel like doing is turning on the stove. I made a double batch of this salad to take on a recent camping trip and it was perfect. Light and refreshing yet filling at the same time. Cooked, shredded chicken or pork would be a good substitute for the shrimp (this photo makes me laugh - it's like all the shrimp are hiding under the noodles because they didn't want their picture taken). The toasted almonds add a nice crunch but chopped peanuts would make a good substitute.

Rice Noodle Salad with Shrimp, Carrots and Almonds
Servings: 4 large - recipe can be doubled

200 gr. dried thin rice noodles - soak in hot water until al dente, drain
1/3 cup lightly toasted slivered almonds
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1 rib celery, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 lb. cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined

Place all in…

Roasted Sweet Potato, Feta, Blueberry and Pecan Salad with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

This is one of my all-time favorite salads! I think the secret to a really phenomenal salad is to have a variety of textures and flavors. This one has sweetness from the blueberries and the sweet potato, crunchiness from the toasted pecans and the baby romaine, a salty bite from the feta and a sweet-tangy flavor from the maple balsamic vinaigrette.

Roasted Sweet Potato, Feta, Blueberry and Pecan Salad with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
(low-carb, gluten free)

one large sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
olive oil
whole pecans
fresh or dried blueberries
baby romaine or other mixed baby greens
Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 375 F. Toss potato with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender and golden - about 45 minutes. In a separate pan, add the pecans the last 7-8 minutes of cooking time. In a large salad bowl, mix the sweet potato, lettuce, blueberries and pecans with the vinaigrette. Arrange on plates and sprinkle with the crumbled…

Sheet Pan Suppers - Simple Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

One of the very first things they teach you in culinary school is to K.I.S.S - which stands for Keep It Simple (Stupid).  They say that the simplest dishes are almost always better than overly complicated dishes with hard-to-find, exotic ingredients. I completely agree with this theory. This roasted chicken and vegetable dish is as simple as they come, but I'm telling you - it is as flavorful and delicious as any dish you would find in a 5 star restaurant.

This one is so simple you don't even need a recipe. Heat oven to 400 F. Spray a large baking pan with sides with non-stick cooking spray. Season bone-in, chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Roast chicken. When chicken is half cooked and fat has rendered off it, add chopped vegetables ( onions, carrots, celery, green beans, cauliflower florets, tiny potatoes, Brussels sprouts etc.) Toss the vegetables with the chicken drippings. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until everything is golden and chicken is thoroughly cooked. E…

Roasted Cauliflower and Poached Eggs ~ Breakfast of Champions ~

My cauliflower addiction is getting out of control. I just can't get enough of this delicious vegetable. I think my favorite way to prepare cauliflower is to roast it. If you are not a fan of cauliflower - try roasting it. I promise you will love it! Roasted cauliflower has a sweet, nutty flavor - it almost reminds me of popcorn. Top the whole thing off with a soft, drippy egg or two, and you have a super filling, healthy, yummy breakfast.

Roasted Cauliflower and Poached Eggs
serving: 2 or 3
(low-carb, gluten free)

!/2 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1/4 onion, chopped
about 1 Tbsp. olive oil or chicken fat
salt and pepper

1 or 2 eggs per person
1 Tbsp. vinegar

Preheat oven to 375 F. Toss the cauliflower and onion with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until golden brown - about 40 minutes. Stir once or twice during cooking.

Toward the end of cooking time, heat a few inches of water in a medium saucepan. Add vinegar. Bring water to a gentle boil. Crack eggs into ramekins and d…

Sweet and Spicy Glazed Button Bones

Button bones are very similar to spareribs, but have a flat, circular bone. A quick Wikipedia check tells me that they are  taken from the bottom 5 or 6 bones located underneath the rib cage. I think button bones sound like something in a children's nursery rhyme - "Have you seen the button bones.. the button bones...the button bones... La La Laaaaa

Sweet and Spicy Glazed Button Bones
servings: 4
recipe source: Beer. Butter. Bacon

2 tsp. Sambal Olek
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. Sriracha
1/2 tsp. salt
black pepper
1 lb. pork button bones
sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds for garnishing
Pour all ingredients in a large plastic zip lock bag. Marinade in fridge 6-8 hours. Preheat oven to 400 F. Bake on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet 40-50 minutes, or until cooked thoroughly. Turn often during cooking.

Tags: Asian, Button Bones, Pork

Creamy Roasted Chicken and Vegetable Soup

At the moment, Calgary is experiencing a record- breaking heat wave. I am sure the last thing on anyone's mind would be to cook up a big pot of hot soup! Well, my timing is impeccable as usual. I made this soup on what ended up being the hottest day of the year, but it was so insanely delicious it was worth it!  This was probably the best thing I have made all year!

I roast whole chickens quite often. I pour off all the pan drippings into a jar and keep the drippings in the freezer. The fat rises to the top, and the pan juices end up on the bottom. This stuff is like liquid gold!  Vegetables roasted in chicken fat has to be one of the best things ever. Seriously!

This recipe is a great way to use leftover roasted chicken. To save time, I roast the vegetables at the same time I roast the chicken. The next day, the soup comes together fairly quickly. Did I mention it's insanely delicious?  I shouldn't write about food before I have eaten breakfast. My stomach is growling so …

Asian- Style Turkey Meatballs with Shirataki Noodles

Have you heard about shirataki noodles?  Made from Japanese yams, these noodles are gluten-free, low-carb and are very low calorie ( about 20 calories per serving!) Wow! They almost sound too good to be true, don't they? Well, yes and no.

I was super excited to try these out, so my husband and I headed over to our local Asian market and purchased a couple of packages. The noodles come pre-cooked and are packed in a liquid. You are supposed to rinse the noodles really well before dropping them in boiling water. Well, turns out shirataki noodles have a very "distinctive" aroma about them. I am not gonna lie - they smell pretty funky.

At this point, I was getting really worried that they would taste awful. Actually, they taste fine- very similar to rice noodles - but they have a very, verrrry  chewy texture. So, not only do they have a unpleasant aroma, they also have an unpleasant texture. I probably won't buy these again.

Shortly after this disaster, I discovered  a simi…

Sweet Potato Tots with Spicy Ketchup

Crunchy on the outside -  soft and fluffy on the inside. These little nuggets of sweet potato goodness are a new twist on an old favorite.

Sweet  Potato Tots

about 1 1/4 lb. sweet potato. peeled and cubed
1/2 medium onion, finely grated
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 Tbsp. potato starch
1 1/2 Tbsp. rice flour
about 1/2 tsp. salt
freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups panko
Spicy ketchup - ketchup mixed with sriracha

Cook potatoes in salted water until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain. Let sit in the colander for a few minutes. In a medium size bowl mash the potatoes with a fork. Add next 6 ingredients. Roll into balls slightly smaller than a golf ball. Use wet hands to prevent sticking. Place the panko in a shallow bowl. Roll the balls in the panko. These turn out the best when they have chilled for about an hour. In a medium- size  skillet heat a 1/2 inch of canola oil over medium heat. When the oil has reached 360 F, add the tots and cook until entire surface is golden brown, turning as they cook. Don't c…

Cheesy Cauliflower Soup with Pumpernickel Croutons

I have been a bad, baaaad blogger. I actually made this soup months ago and I am just finally getting around to sharing it with you!  I am mildly obsessed with cauliflower these days. At only 12 calories per 1/2 cup it is a great alternative to higher- calorie starchy foods, such as potatoes or pasta. Its mild flavor makes it extremely versatile -  it is great mashed, steamed, roasted, breaded and fried, as a lower- carb substitute in "potato salad". Pureed cooked cauliflower can also help thicken creamy soups and sauces without adding a lot of calories. 

Cauliflower - It's the rock star of the produce department!

Cheesy Cauliflower Soup with Pumpernickel Croutons
servings: about 6

1 yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
3 cups milk
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. dry mustard
3 cups chicken stock
2 cups aged Cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup heavy cream

Fiesta Pasta Salad w Black Beans, Mango and Avocado

Spring forward ... Fall back. Setting the clocks ahead an hour can only mean one thing - Winter is almost over! I created this salad because I was craving something bright and fresh.  It was a nice change from the heavy, stick-to-the-rib meals we have been eating all winter. Have I ever mentioned how much I love mango? It just tastes like sunshine!

Fiesta Pasta Salad w Black Beans, Mango and Avocado
servings: 6 to 8

375 gr. box of whole wheat pasta ( I used penne but I might go with something a little smaller next time)
1 cup of grape tomatoes, sliced in half
3 scallions, thinly sliced
15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, finely minced
1 mango, peeled and diced
a handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced ( add this right before serving)

juice and zest of one lime (about 1/4 cup of juice)
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
2 tsp. honey
1/4 cup of olive oil
salt and pepper

Whisk all ingredients together…

It's Not Easy Being Green ~ Chicken and Broccoli Poppers

"It's not easy being green" ~ Kermit the Frog

I have a little confession to make. I am not really a big fan of broccoli.Neither is my husband. Which is funny because we are definitely veggie lovers. Brussels Sprouts, cabbage, spinach, cauliflower, green beans - you name it, we love them all. So, maybe you could tell me why a person who is not crazy about broccoli cannot stop buying it! Just take a peek into my fridge at any given time and you are sure to find a gigantic bag of broccoli.  Taunting me.

Chicken and Broccoli Poppers

1 8 oz. boneless chicken breast( uncooked ) chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 1/4 cups chopped broccoli, cooked until tender
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 cup grated cheese, optional
salt and pepper
about 1 cup panko breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 425 F. In a food processor pulse the cooked broccoli. Remove and scoop into a medium size bowl. Pulse the chicken pieces just until coarsely ground. Add to the bowl with the broccoli. Add chee…

Chicken Curry Pot Pie

The other day I was wracking my brain trying to think of something to make for dinner. I had a bunch of leftover rotisserie chicken in the fridge so it had to be some kind of chicken dish. After doing some serious chicken thinkin', I finally settled on my all-time favorite comfort food - chicken pot pie. For a change of pace, I decided to make a chicken curry filling and I topped the whole thing with a biscuit crust. Chicken + Biscuits = YUMMY!  The biscuit topping was absolutely incredible!  See all those nooks and crannies? Those are like little pockets of deliciousness!

Chicken Curry Pot Pie - If lovin' you is wrong, I don't want to be right
recipe source: Beer.Butter.Bacon
serves: 6

1 yellow onion, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
4 oz.trimmed green beans, cut into thirds and blanched for one minute
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 cups heavy cre…

Spicy Turkey Chili

Hearty, filling and satisfying - it will warm your belly on a chilly (ha) day.

Spicy Turkey Chili

recipe source: Beer. Butter. Bacon. original recipe
servings: at least 6

1/2 cup dehydrated Roma tomatoes
1/4 cup dried Chile de arbol, stems cut off

1 1/2 lb. lean ground turkey
1 onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 carrot, finely grated
1 green bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. ground cumin
3 Tbsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. dry mustard
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 small can tomato paste
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 tsp. oregano leaves
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 14 oz. can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 14 oz. can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
season with salt, pepper and hot sauce

sour cream, chopped cilantro, sliced scallions, grated cheese, diced red onions, diced avocado, corn chips or tortilla chips

1. Soak the dehydrated tomatoes and dried chilies in a small bowl with 1 cup o…

Spaghetti Squash alla Carbonara

I have recently discovered how much I looove spaghetti squash. If it is cooked well, I think it is just as good as regular pasta (maybe even better). It is a great low- carb, gluten-free, lower calorie alternative to wheat pasta.

Toss some cooked spaghetti squash in some browned butter and a bit of grated Parmesan and it is INSANELY delicious. You won't believe how good it is! I have also made spaghetti squash with a classic bolognese sauce and it was also really good. So, I started thinking of other classic pasta dishes and decided to make a Spaghetti Squash alla Carbonara.

 Spaghetti alla Carbonara (literally: Coal Miner's Wife Spaghetti in Italian) is a classic Italian pasta dish that usually contains Pecorino Romano, cured fatty pork, raw eggs and freshly cracked black pepper. The hot pasta is tossed vigorously with the raw eggs and a bit of the starchy pasta water and it makes a creamy sauce without using any cream. The starch from the pasta  is the key to a successful car…

Christmas Cookies in January?

Hey, look at me. I've really got my act together this year. I am already posting Christmas Cookie recipes - 11 months early!  Not falling for it, are you?  OK, this one falls into the  "a day late and a dollar short", category. I meant to share these with you before Christmas, but I just ran out of time.  Sooo, better late than never, right?

 In my family, we have started a new tradition - we give each other homemade presents for Christmas. I LOVE this! I think homemade presents are always more meaningful than any store bought present could ever be. Not that I am knocking store bought presents! I just think that homemade presents are just so sweet and charming. It reminds me of simpler times. *SIGH*

I think I must get my love for all things homemade from my mother. She is extremely talented and craft-y. She cooks, she bakes, she sews, she paints, she makes jewellery, she scrapbooks. My mom even makes all of her own Birthday/Holiday/Thank you cards. Seriously, my mom cou…

Chicken Lasagna ~ Nacho Style ~

THE " F " WORD ....

Not that one, silly.  I  thought I would take this opportunity to talk a little about FIBER. Eating a diet high in fiber can help prevent many types of diseases, can help lower your blood cholesterol and can also help you lose weight! Fill up on healthy high- fiber foods and you are much less likely to overindulge on Cheetos and Peanut M&M's.

The recommended daily fiber level is 30 - 40 grams per day, but most people only get 10 - 15 grams. It is easy to incorporate high fiber foods into your diet. Eat foods that are as close to their natural state as possible -  an apple instead of a glass of apple juice, is one example. Check out nutritional labels - some types of high fiber pasta have as much as 10 grams of fiber per serving. The best sources of fiber are found in fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains and high fiber bran cereals.

I recently discovered that one of my favourite foods is loaded with fiber. Did you know that one medium California a…

Rich and Creamy Shrimp and Clam Chowder

There is absolutely nothing better than a steaming hot bowl of chowder on a cold day. Chowder definitely tops my list of favorite cold-weather comfort foods. I never follow a recipe when I make soups, so they are always slightly different each time. I always include bacon ( hello), onions, celery and potatoes because  I just love those flavours. Pretty much any combination of seafood would be amazing in a chowder, just make sure you add it at the last minute to prevent overcooking. To give the chowder a rich and creamy consistency, I like to thicken the soup with two different thickening methods - butter and flour ( beurre manie) and a mixture of cornstarch and water ( slurry).

Rich and Creamy Shrimp and Clam Chowder
serves: 6 to 8

6 strips of raw bacon, diced
1 onion, diced small
2 or 3 ribs of celery, diced small
14 oz. new potatoes, diced small
a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme or a pinch of dried thyme
1 or 2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups clam nectar
4 cups milk or half and half
2 -14…