Friday, April 4, 2014

jamie's fifteen minute meals - sizzling beef steak with hoisin shrimp & noodle bowls

Now we're talkin' surf and turf. Well, not really, but let's just say this is a way more interesting version of. Jamie's Sizzling Beef Steak with Hoisin Shrimp & Noodle Bowls is a crazy combination of everything but the kitchen sink.

Not everything even made it into this photo. There is wonderful seasoned noodles, carrots, lettuce, radishes, oyster mushrooms, sesame seeds, bean sprouts, crushed peanuts and sprouted cress. This is a fun and tasty dinner I'd just love to make again.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

jamie's fifteen minute meals - veggie chili with crunchy tortilla & avocado salad

I'm thinking this might just be our last chili dinner until the fall. The temperatures are still very cool, a warm veggie chili still feels good even though we are technically into spring. Jamie's veggie chili is a quick one but actually tastes like one that has been simmering for a long time. This chili is much better than my go-to veggie chili, however I did make a revision according to my taste in replacing chickpeas with pinto beans.

The side salad was a wonderful accompaniment. Kinda Caesar meets the southwest. The dressing is delicious using lime, cilantro and avocado. I really loved using seasoned corn tortillas for a much tastier version of a crouton.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

jamie's fifteen minute meals - pork marsala, porchini rice & spring greens

Now, who doesn't love a good veal marsala? I know its a personal favourite of mine, but I never considered using pork. Jamie's Pork Marsala with Porchini Rice & Spring Greens sounded awesome but unfortunately feel a little short.

The porcini rice didn't have very much flavour beyond regular white rice. But it was nice enough to carry the star of the show - the marsala cream sauce! I would definitely remake the sauce portion of this dinner again. But what really threw me off were the greens. Boiled greens aren't to my taste and I didn't expect either of the guys to enjoy them either. I understand the meat and rice could use a veggie side, but we can certainly do without this one.

Friday, March 28, 2014

jamie's fifteen minute meals - blackened chicken san fran quinoa salad

Last night I decided to try Jamie's Blackened Chicken San Fran Quinoa Salad. I was really looking forward to this dinner in particular because all the fresh ingredients are just the sort of foods that could brighten things for us on the last stretch of what feels like a never ending winter.

This dinner is one of the more quick to prepare meals from the book. I cooked the quinoa ahead of time, which made things even faster in the evening. The quinoa has a green dressing somewhere between a pesto and green goddess dressing. I found it had a little too much of a strong onion flavour, so down the road I'm thinking two scallions would do the job just fine. Then a layer of sauteed bell pepper, sliced blackened chicken breasts, mango, avocado, feta along with a final garnish of cilantro and sprouted cress. Owen picked out and ate most everything around the green quinoa. But Nuno and I were in suspended pleasure from beginning to end with this. It's all kinds of delicious that felt so good to eat. If you are looking for a pick-me-up, this meal is the ticket!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

jamie's fifteen minute meals - glazed pork tenderloin with cajun-style pepper rice & bbq sauce

I'm not sure why I chose this recipe in particular because it didn't sound like anything I'm normally attracted to food-wise. I'm thinking it was the okra that initially turned me off making this, but then I considered, why not just omit it? So I added it to the meal plan and figured it was worth a go.

There is a great cooking technique with the pork tenderloin which cooks quickly and evenly when sliced open and butterflied. Once browned, it's broiled with a killer homemede BBQ sauce - nice and simple to prepare. Even though the pork is lean, you definitely get the taste of saucy ribs. The rice is delicous as well and I think I'll go back to this particular rice dish often as it's simple to prepare and could go well as a side to just about any meat. Another big winner on our hands.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

jamie's fifteen minute meals - chicken cacciatore

Chicken Cacciatore was always my absolute favourite as a kid. Oh, we were dining high style growing up when my mom made this for dinner. Then I learned to make it in college and it was nothing compared to mom's. How does Jamie's Chicken Cacciatore Spaghetti & Smoky Tomato Sauce compare to the one I grew up with as a child? Why, this meal is one of the best cacciatores I've ever tried. Real depth of flavour in minutes.

Again, I was really confused with the instruction on this one. I find this book requires a whole lot of intuitive cooking, so I hope anyone who tries these recipes is on their toes and ready to deflect possible disasters as they work. I know I don't mind a challenge in the kitchen, but I find myself really thrown off when a recipe like this indicates to add an ingredient not listed as part of the step-by-step process (this one asks for 'broth' which I still can't figure out where it comes from). Oh well, I made this not in the hurried fashion the recipe is instructed, but at my own pace and how I cook. I understand there is this 15 minute benchmark, and if you are holding yourself up to it I'm sure you'd find yourself fumbling and scrambling. Honestly, my head would be spinning if I put myself to the clock here. I do believe it is possible to make these in fifteen minutes if you've tried these recipes at least a couple times before, then it's plausable to nail the timing element. So here's hoping when I go back to work next year I'll have gained enough knowledge and experience to make these happen on a weeknight.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

jamie's fifteen minute meals - goregous greek chicken

On Friday I decided to try Jamie's Gorgeous Greek Chicken, Herby Vegetable Couscous & Tzatziki. Chicken, couscous, peas and yogurt - this meal was chosen with Owen in mind. I had quite the trouble with Jamie's instruction on this meal. To begin, his ratio for couscous was WAY off. He has a two to one ratio (water to couscous) and it's a damp mess. I went back to my no-fail ratio of one to one and a quarter (couscous to water). Then Jamie indicates to add bell peppers, scallions and peas - raw to the dinner. I deferred and sauteed them to make them a little more tender, and it came out beautifully. With all the challenges this recipe I was relieved to even complete it that I forgot to top with feta.

Oh well, didn't matter because this dinner was friggin' awesome! I know some of these recipes might seem simple, or that you can imagine when beginning how it will taste, but I'm consistently surprised at how amped up the flavours are and truly enjoyable these dinners are.

Friday, March 21, 2014

save with jamie - really tasty charred asian salad

OK, don't make this Really Tasty Charred Asian Salad indoors - ever. This dinner has quite the back story. In the afternoon I prepped all the veggies and dressing leaving the task of grilling on the cast iron grill pan for Nuno should he want to start dinner while I escaped for a pedicure. This time away from home was my longest stretch of separation from Clea since shes been born. Returning rejuvenated, I walked into an open home with the smoke alarm blasting. I won't get into all the details for the sake of my husband's pride but suffice to say he had his hands very full that evening. But with all the trouble this dinner caused it was damn delish.

We ate the wonderful variety of broccoli, carrots, butternut squash, scallions, mushrooms, savoy cabbage and tofu. Can you really imagine a more healthy dinner to be feeding your children? I love the flavour of charred veggies, especially the cabbage. The dressing works perfectly and it was so easy to eat. For me, I could eat something like this once a week, but I just don't know how well that would bode with the boys. Realistically, I can see us enjoying this again during the summer as an outdoor barbequed meal.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

jamie's fifteen minute meals - tasty daal curry

I was excited to try Jamie's Tasty Daal Curry with Warm Tomato Salad & Naan. I've always been intrigued by daal, seeing it on Indian menus, but always going back to my favourite staples when it comes to eating Indian out. I really loved the simplicity of this dinner and this is just another stunning example of how well seasoned Jamie's ethnic recipes are. They are so accessible for everyone and provide great variety for our family. Jamie even manages to sneak in spinach, which I thought would end up with chewy, hard to break down leaves, but they blended so wonderfully I can't imagine this daal without it.

Ok, so I could have done without the chili powder seasoning in the tomato salad but it was a nice cleansing bite against the rich daal. This dinner was a hit for all three of us.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

jamie's fifteen minute meals - thai chicken laska

I got pretty hooked on Save with Jamie there, but over the weekend I cracked open Jamie's other most recent book, Jamie's Fifteen Minute Meals. Didn't take very long before I found myself bookmarking many recipes to try. Having had previous experience trying some recipes from this book (Ko Samui Salad and Chicken Fajitas) I have already set the expectation that there is no possible way any of these recipes will be complete in 15 minutes. Now that we've got that out of the way I can appreciate these recipes for being healthy and delicious which is pretty much what's most important anyways.

Kicking things off with Thai Chicken Laska from Jamie's Fifteen Minute Meals. We're really getting into Jamie's take on Asian noodle dishes and this one is a must eat again. A coconut and squash broth with asparagus seemed like an odd combination, but it works so beautifully. Jamie is great at taking fresh ingredients and spices, blending them into a flavour paste that creates dinners you really didn't think you'd ever be able to achieve at home. But I'm super glad we're trying all these recipes because I think we'll enjoy dinners like this for years to come.

Friday, March 14, 2014

save with jamie - sicilian squash and chickpea stew

This Sicilian Squash and Chickpea Stew from Save with Jamie tastes just like Moroccan Chicken Couscous from Everyday Food Great Food Fast, one of my favourite recipes ever. Although the seasoning is quite similar, the ingredient list between the two recipes is slightly different and I feel like this one which includes butternut squash in place of chicken is tastier.

For quite some time now we've been eating at least one vegetarian meal per week. If a recipe is tasty, meat or no meat there isn't much of a reason to take note. I doubt we'd ever go vegetarian unless it was for a health concern. I really admire those people who choose to do it. But I believe in variety and enjoying tasting everything this world has to offer and Jamie Oliver's recipes are definitely expanding our family's dinner experiences.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

save with jamie - carrot, orange and ginger soup

After a Saturday of indulgence (bacon pancakes for breakfast and lunch out), I decided to make something super healthy and light for dinner. Save with Jamie's Carrot, Orange and Ginger Soup is probably the simplest soup recipe I've ever made.

But with all its simplicity it fell short - way short. It was basically inedible. The consistency was that of baby food puree and although I've never used or tasted a jar of baby food (that I can remember) it was what I imagine baby food could be. I added yogurt to give it a bit of body and richness, but it was quite unsalvageable. A total bomb of a recipe - boo.

Friday, March 7, 2014

save with jamie - sloppy brisket po'boy

Using the last of our beef and gravy we enjoyed Jamie's Sloppy Brisket Po'boy. I was a little surprised to discover that po'boy's were originally made with beef. I was always under the impression they only contained fried seafood. This is a wonderful end of the week meal because of its simplicity. On a large ciabatta loaf you load up roast beef and gravy along with shredded lettuce, pickles and mustard. And that's it! Super simple and very delicious.

Infact, these taste very similar to my other favourite sandwich, a cubano! Must be that mustard and pickle combo.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

save with jamie - beef rendang

Another new experience from Save with Jamie is his recipe for Beef Rendang. I didn't really have high hopes for this dinner based on first impressions, but, boy what a surprise this one was!

I've never tried rendang before so I wasn't sure what to expect, but this is one recipe I'll go for anytime there is leftover beef. My goodness, Jamie wasn't kidding when he indicates it is touted as one of the tastiest foods in the world. A lot of the flavour is built from ginger, garlic, cilantro, turmeric and cinnamon. Then more flavour, body and richness is built from the leftover gravy and coconut milk. And it was exciting that such little effort and time produced such spectacular results. This is the sort of dish I'd order in a restaurant and be very happy with. As you can tell, I really could not get over this meal and if anyone has Save with Jamie I highly recommend trying this recipe.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

save with jamie - spiced beef tagine

With lots of leftover roast beef from our previous night's dinner I was ready to plan on making a handful of Save with Jamie's beef recipes. First off, I decided to tackle Jamie's Spiced Beef Tagine. This recipe has one of the longest ingredient lists I've come across. Luckily, I only had to buy 4 key ingredients (olives, tomatoes, potatoes and mint) as everything else was on hand.

I'd be willing to admit this is an overall quick meal to prepare, however I made a huge error that set us back on our cook time. I used 2 russet potatoes which was far too much potato for the meal. I guess Jamie is, without saying, indicating small (Carlingford) potatoes. It took ages to get these potatoes to be cooked through and it certainly didn't help that I cut them too large to begin with. After all was said and done with the stew, there is a final step of adding segmented orange, mint and shredded carrots as garnish. I have to admit, those flavours didn't seem to blend very well with the rest of the stew. Infact, overall the list of ingredients were a slightly odd combination that really didn't work for me (Owen seemed to enjoy it, but he's loved all the Save with Jamie meals). The spice blend of garam masala and cumin was certainly nice. But as far as the overall experience I doubt we'd attempt this meal again.