Thursday, March 29, 2012

baked chicken nuggets

This month's issue of Everyday Food magazine featured a recipe for Baked Chicken Nuggets. We make our own chicken nuggets but these are the type that are great in the freezer and then baked in the oven. I love this recipe because nuggets have more of a chicken texture (they are just small pieces of chicken breast) and can be made from scratch start to finish quite quickly. 
Everything that goes into these nuggets are pantry staples, so I like that these are as easy as they are. We were in total shock as to how quick they are to prepare and how truly delicious they are. There is a suggested dipping sauce which is a mixture of ketchup, chili sauce, sriracha and mayo and had quite a kick. Plum sauce was Owen's side. And, I guess it goes without saying, but I will anyhow, Owen loved them.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

steak sandwich with peppers

There isn’t any question in my mind why the Philly Cheesesteak has the reputation it does. I’m not sure there are many things that can top how satisfying it is to eat a steak sandwich. It’s filling, full flavoured and comforting. A few weeks ago I blogged about the chilli rubbed skirt steak I accidently left out overnight which foiled the plan to make Steak Sandwiches with Peppers the next day. Well, I wasn’t going to just let that delicious possibility fall by the wayside, so we did it all again. The first dinner was the chilli rubbed skirt steak with a side of mashed potatoes to turn into next day Steak Sandwiches with Peppers.
This dinner is beyond delicious! I almost always enjoy next day steak sandwiches over the previous days steak entree.

Monday, March 26, 2012

chicken cacciatore

This is our Chicken Cacciatore from Everyday Food Light.
I really didn't end up following the recipe instruction with this dinner. It suggested microwaving the chicken with the other ingredients and that really didn't sound too appealing. So I decided to season and dredge the chicken in corn starch and pan fry. Of course, this isn't the light option, but it's the tastier one. With that modification I had to adjust the rest of the cooking times and techniques. Served over linguine, this dinner was a total hit with Owen.

Friday, March 23, 2012

ham and egg fried rice

I've mentioned before how much Owen loves rice. What can I say, he's a cheap date! Between his love for rice and beans he would have made a great Cuban. I was looking through past issues of Everyday Food magazine where I stumbled upon this Ham and Egg Fried Rice from April 2009. A great way to use up leftover rice from the previous night.
This was so simple and nice. By no stretch the best fried rice we've had, but it certainly was a nice switch-up and perfect for an easy mid-week dinner quickly put on the table.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

salmon with hoisin glaze and sauteed bok choy with broccoli

This is a Salmon with Hoisin Glaze with a side of Sauteed Bok Choy with Broccoli from Great Food Fast and steamed basmati rice. I've never been a huge fan of bok choy, but I never give up on it and always continue to try it in different ways. This recipe is probably the most delicious way we've had it to date.
Together this dinner is so delicious! I wouldn't change a thing about it and would definitely have it again.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

pork tenderloin with swiss chard and polenta

This is Pork Tenderloin with Swiss Chard and Polenta from Everyday Food Light. 
I doubt it comes across as particularly appetizing based on looks or description, but this dinner is a combination of all food we have really been enjoying lately. Everything goes so nicely together and in combination the flavour is unexpected and totally different then how you would imagine each ingredient tasting apart. That is what makes this dinner so outstanding. Naturally, I didn't expect Owen to be on board, but he loved it too. He's always surprising me with what he likes and dislikes. This dinner is truly delicious, I know we'll keep going back to it in the future.

Monday, March 19, 2012

orecchiette with sausage and roasted peppers

This is our Orecchiette with Sausage and Roasted Peppers from Great Food Fast. 
It really was delicious using our favourite local butcher's Italian chicken sausage. This is a very nice dinner with most of the flavour built right in through the sausage seasoning. What was really a great confidence boost was that this was my most successful attempt at roasting red peppers. From past experience, I always assumed I needed a gas range to accomplish this, but the broiler did a better job then ever before.  The skins slipped right off the flesh without any hassle!

Friday, March 16, 2012

lighter beef chili

I'm not sure there's ever been a time we've made the same chili recipe twice. I love the variety of different meats, beans and even vegetarian options you have when cooking chili. There's no denying, it wasn't difficult to convince us to try Everyday Food Light's Lighter Beef Chili.
The first great tip I've discovered from the new Everyday Food book is that ground sirloin is the leanest ground beef choice and it has a wonderful flavour. I think I might be sticking with is for most recipes that call for ground beef. There is a large ratio of beans in this recipe, which is another reason it's considered light. I love pinto beans, so this chili was right up my alley. Finally, there is an addition of cocoa which I liked. It required a bit of refining with the seasoning at the end, but that's OK. I'd rather add more salt to my portion and keep Owen's with less intensity.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

quick chickpea curry

This is the Quick Chickpea Curry from Everyday Food Light. I love making channa masala at home, so this is basically the same thing only a whole lot faster. I took the liberty of substituting half a tablespoon of garam masala and half a tablespoon of the madras curry as indicated with wonderful results. 
You are initially hit with the fragrance of this dinner, it really is spectacular. Then a few bites later you're hit with a resonant heat. It was funny to see Owen's reaction to this dinner because he just loved it, but couldn't help but find the spice creeping up on him. A high rice to curry ratio was key to feeding this to Owen as well as a big glass of milk on the side.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

caesar salad with spicy shrimp

The idea of eating a shrimp salad for dinner might not seem like the most exciting option, but this Caesar Salad with Spicy Shrimp from Everyday Food Light is incredible! 
Starting with corn tortillas brushed with a spicy oil and baked as your crouton. The dressing on this is an unexpected combination of light mayo, lime, parmesan and anchovies. Sounds a little strange for a caesar, but it's absolutely incredible. Together, this salad is restaurant quality at home. Nuno and I just loved it. This isn't the most toddler friendly dinner so we set Owen up with the leftover cashew chicken.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

cashew chicken

This recipe for Cashew Chicken is one of our most loved recipes from Great Food Fast. A standby for at least 8 years, we've made this for dinner over and over again. It was nice to go back to it the other night.
What I love about this recipe (besides how delicious it is) is the great technique of dredging the chicken in cornstarch and then pan frying. This always results in moist chicken, we love it. The sauce is so delicious with a nice rich carmely-hoisin flavour. We removed the green onion from Owen's portion and it's such a hit I'm thinking most kids would just gobble this dinner right up. Eating this brought a new word into Owen's vocabulary, he's now always asking for 'nuts'. This Cashew Chicken is one of my most highly recommended dinners from Great Food Fast.

Monday, March 12, 2012

rigatoni with goat cheese

The recipe for Rigatoni with Goat Cheese from Great Food Fast is really a make-your-own-pasta recipe basically giving you a starting point for a pasta that can be enjoyed any way you like it. So we added sun-dried tomatoes, slivered almonds, garlic and red pepper flakes.
This is a delicious dinner using mostly pantry items. The sauce is creamy an flavourful and the sun-dried tomatoes add a nice kick while the almonds add contrast in texture. We added some leftover pasta water to get a nice saucy consistency. Owen loved it.
For instructions on how to make our pasta above click here.

Friday, March 9, 2012

dinner and a movie

I think we are now getting to the age with Owen where I don't see much harm in having him sit down to enjoy the odd movie. As any parent with a sick child will attest to, it is sometimes the only possible way to keep a feverish busy-body in one place to stay relaxed and heal up. We decided to rent Disney’s Lady and the Tramp for Owen and I’m just not sure who enjoyed it more, me or him. I was totally struck by the story which seemed to hit a little too close to home watching it together with Owen and our Pug Hot Tot by my side. OK, so I was outright sobbing at the tale of a new baby entering a family and their adorable dog, Lady who began feeling replaced. Oh my. 
I was also in complete awe of the craftsmanship and vision that went into the backgrounds this movie features. The palettes are so unbelievably gorgeous and the quality of the animation is incredible in movies like these, they need to be relived now that we have HD and Blu-ray quality. It’s true what they say, you really do relive and gain a new appreciation for childhood as a parent.
Anyone who’s seen the movie could most likely recall the scene where Lady and the Tramp dine in the back of an Italian restaurant. Owen then asked for Spaghetti and Meatballs immediately after watching and it was totally possible for us to have since we always have a stash of homemade meatballs in the freezer.
I like the idea of treating Owen to a dinner and a movie pairing once in a while which I hope to blog about in entries to come.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

chili rubbed skirt steak

We haven't really had a whole lot of skirt steak dinners before, probably because this is not a very popular cut for butchers in Canada. There is one butcher I visit who sells it so I grabbed some to try this Chili Rubbed Skirt Steak from Great Food Fast. This rub has just the right sweetness and kick, we absolutely loved it. As it's cooking the house became so fragrant, similar to when fajitas come sizzling out of a restaurant kitchen. The steak is pretty versatile and made for great next day steak sandwiches - which was the plan until I accidentally forgot it on the counter overnight. Ah well, I don't feel like we got enough enjoyment out of this recipe so we'll be making it again very soon.
It is served with a side of Romaine Heart Salad with Creamy Dressing. The dressing has a strong chili flavour which wasn't exactly refreshing against the spicy meat.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

beef on weck

You know what I love about cooking from Anna Olson's cookbooks? How much of what she creates applies to where we live. Besides the obvious seasonality of her recipes which apply so well to Niagara's produce and wine region, it's neat to open up a cookbook like Anna & Michael Olson Cook At Home and find a recipe for Beef on Weck. This is a Buffalo specialty which I only discovered several years ago but really love. And it's easy to make right at home!
Wecks are rolls with a salt and caraway topping that pairs so nicely with freshly sliced roast beef. You can find kummelweck rolls at a few bakeries here in Niagara, but Anna & Micheal's recipe in the book I just mentioned has instructions on making your own using store bought pizza dough.

I found an amazing technique for cooking the perfect roast beef and had a lot of success. Here's the link.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C). Season the roast with salt and pepper and place in a roasting pan or baking dish. Do not cover or add water. 

Place the roast in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 475 degrees F (245 degrees C). Roast for 21 minutes (seven minutes per pound) then turn off the oven and let the roast sit in the hot oven for 2 hours. Do not open the door at all during this time!  For Beef on Weck you want it quite rare so using a thermometer remove when roast reads 140 degrees.

Our roast rendered a wonderful au jus which I reduced on the stove top. After letting the roast beef rest we sliced as thin as possible. Dip the sliced side of the top of your roll in au jus. We ate ours with horseradish, but that's of course totally optional.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

pecan-crusted catfish and carrot slaw with yogurt dressing

I bought catfish for the first time specifically to try this recipe for Pecan-Crusted Catfish from Great Food Fast. This is my first time even tasting catfish and like so many fish, I think I was a little freaked out about trying it. I always envisioned catfish to be like carp, bottom feeders. And, well, let's face it - if you live near the Great Lakes eating fish just isn't appealing. Naturally, I bought farm raised catfish fillets from the grocery store for this recipe so there wasn't any need for my neurotic food associations. 
The crust is a mixture of seasoned cornmeal and pecans and has a very nice texture and flavour - very different from anything I've tasted before. The breading adhered perfectly to the cooked fish, which is an amazing feat considering how moist this fish is and how tender & light the breading is. There was a side of Carrot Slaw with Yogurt Dressing to accompany the catfish. It was very nice, light and paired perfectly with the fish.

Monday, March 5, 2012

lighter chicken enchiladas

Here is our Lighter Chicken Enchiladas from Everyday Food Light. I had a difficult time imagining a world where enchiladas could be light and delicious. 
Glad I was introduced to these. Believe it or not, these are so easy to make and absolutely delicious. I was a little disappointed that the corn tortillas cracked a few minutes after being rolled, but after it was baked I really needn't worry because it didn't make any difference. Everything came together to a rich casserole-like consistency. So we made this a second time around for dinner and layered it like lasagna into a casserole and it worked even better! Super delish and, yes, it was light without being skimpy.

Friday, March 2, 2012

mushroom tart

Here is the Mushroom Tart from Great Food Fast. Like anything using puff pastry, this was bound to be great. After using pre-sliced crimini mushrooms, there really is hardly any prep work to this. Having said that, there is a great number of steps involved in creating this masterpiece.
The onions caramelize in one pot, the mushrooms and spinach cook in another, then the puff pastry is rolled and baked separate. So you have a three-ring circus happening simultaneously. If you're not on top of any of these, you risk burning or overcooking any one of them. Luckily I nailed it with help from Nuno at a few key moments. It was almost a relief once complete so we were all able to really enjoyed this.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

parmesan-stuffed chicken breast

This Parmesan-Stuffed Chicken Breast from Great Food Fast is just about the easiest and simplest dinner you could imagine whipping up - and delicious to boot. Stuff a mixture of parmesan, parsley, lemon zest, bread crumbs and s&p under a bone-in skin-on chicken breast and bake.
We had so much of the stuffing left over, we cooked spaghetti, tossed in olive oil and mixed in the breading. It is so delicious. This is a no-fail kid loving dinner too - Owen went nuts over it. We loved this recipe and will no doubt make it again.