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Friday, August 31, 2007

tasty enchiladic quickie

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I love enchiladas, burritos, tacos, or anything that purports to be pseudo-mexican inspired. O-town is not exactly a hotbed of mexican culinary authenticity, but the bits I've had have still been more than enough to give me a taste of this zesty cuisine.

My initial plan for last night was to make up a batch of chili-cheese enchiladas. Something quick, easy and healthy (using black beans and veggie ground round). I was going to make 12 of the little suckers and figured that should easily feed 5 people.

But then I remembered who was coming to dinner. And promptly realized that 12 enchilads would be a mere drop in the bucket. So I frantically went off in search of another enchilada recipe to offer as an alternative....came upon a recipe for chicken enchiladas with salsa verde. Behold, we have a winner. I used turkey instead of chicken (and you could really substitute whatever your heart desired) and they were FABULOUS.

Both kinds were awesome. I didn't take photos, because I didn't realize just how awesome they would be, but trust me when I say that you should make these. It's pretty quick to make up the 2 pans and you too can be a dinner hero.

Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde
stolen from Cooking

1 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (7-ounce) bottle salsa verde (such as Herdez brand - Ottawa readers, you can find this at the Gloucester Loblaws and the Bells Corners Price CHopper, amont other places)
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (used turkey and it was fab)
1/3 cup (3 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
8 (6-inch) tortillas (corn tortillas were past their sell-by date so I used whole wheat)
Cooking spray
1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled queso fresco (didn't have time to go searching for this, so just used cheddar)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
4 lime wedges (bought 'em and forgot to use 'em)
Cilantro sprigs (optional)

Preheat oven to 425°.
1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a blender; process until smooth. Combine chicken and cream cheese in a large bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup salsa mixture. Reserve remaining salsa mixture.

2. Warm tortillas to soften them (if necessary) Spoon about 1/4 cup chicken mixture down center of tortilla; roll up. Place tortilla, seam-side down, in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining tortillas, broth, and chicken mixture.

Pour remaining salsa mixture over enchiladas; sprinkle evenly with queso fresco and chili powder. Bake at 425° for 18 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve with lime wedges. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired.

4 servings (serving size: 2 enchiladas and 1 lime wedge)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 327(26% from fat); FAT 9.5g (sat 4.4g,mono 2.9g,poly 1.3g); PROTEIN 28.5g; CHOLESTEROL 78mg; CALCIUM 149mg; SODIUM 493mg; FIBER 3.3g; IRON 1.8mg; CARBOHYDRATE 31g

Chili Cheese Black Bean Enchilada

Cooking spray
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (12-ounce) bag frozen soy crumbles, thawed (I used a package of Yves veggie ground round)
3/4 cup bottled salsa
1/3 cup (3 ounces) block-style fat-free cream cheese, softened
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat extrasharp cheddar cheese, divided
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas (could only get whole wheat)
1 (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce (can be found at either the Gloucester Centre Loblaws or Bells Corners Price Chopper)

Preheat oven to 350°.
1. Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion, and sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Stir in cumin, oregano, chili powder, garlic, beans, and soy crumbles, and cook 2 minutes, stirring mixture frequently.

2. Stir in salsa, and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat, and add cream cheese and 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, stirring until cheese melts.

3. Warm tortillas according to package directions. Spread 1/3 cup enchilada sauce in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spoon about 1/3 cup black bean mixture down center of each tortilla, and roll up. Arrange enchiladas, seam sides down, crosswise in dish. Pour remaining enchilada sauce evenly over enchiladas, and sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheddar. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

6 servings (serving size: 2 enchiladas)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 386(30% from fat); FAT 12.9g (sat 4g,mono 3.8g,poly 3.4g); PROTEIN 26.8g; CHOLESTEROL 17mg; CALCIUM 390mg; SODIUM 995mg; FIBER 10.7g; IRON 5.4mg; CARBOHYDRATE 43.9g

This was awesome. There was barely enough left for my lunch today! I served the enchiladas with salsa and sour cream and would happily eat them at any time of day. YUM. This would be a great dish to make up in advance for company, and the best part is that you can have one of each enchilada, still have a fabulous dinner for less than 400 calories, and it's loaded with protein and fibre and really does a great job of making you feel full. YUM.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

chocolate and caramel with the daring bakers

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It's that time of the month again...and no, I don't mean THAT time (or at least, if I did, I wouldn't post about it here), rather, the time where the exact same identical recipe starts suspiciously popping up on blogs around the globe.

Oh yeah. It's time for Daring Bakers.

This month's recipe was a very fun Milk Chocolate Caramel Tart. I was super stoked to make it, because I don't often stretch my baking boundaries, and since this recipe was incorporating caramel (woohoo!) AND chocolate, I didn't see how it could possibly not be awesome. Well, read on....

Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart
Daring Bakers - August

This tart starts with pastry. I freaking hate pastry.

Chocolate Shortbread Pastry
Note: The Chocolate Shortbread pastry can make 3 tart shells.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Refrigeration: overnight
To make 3 tart shells: 9 ½ inches (24 cm) square
or 10 inches (26 cm round)


1 cup (250g ) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (150 g) confectioners’ sugar
½ cup (50 g) ground hazelnuts
2 level teaspoons (5 g) ground cinnamon
2 eggs
4 ½ cups (400 g) cake flour
2 ½ teaspoons (10 g) baking powder
1 ½ tablespoons (10 g) cocoa powder

A day ahead
1. In a mixing bowl of a food processor, cream the butter. (Leslie's Note - this is totally and completely different from any other pastry recipe I've made....they usually call for uber cold butter, so it stays in little bits and makes things flakey. This is strange)

2. Add the confectioners’ sugar, the ground hazelnuts, and the cinnamon, and mix together. This part I can totally do. Doesn't it look nice?

from whence it all came

3. Add the eggs, one by one, mixing constantly

4. Sift in the flour, the baking powder, and the cocoa powder, and mix well.

5. Form a ball with the dough, cover in plastic wrap, and chill overnight.

So I made a big ole ball outta the pastry. And it felt kinda strange. Almost plastic-like. This should have been another clue.

thank hubs for this shot

Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart

Preparation time: 40 minutes
Baking Time: 30 minutes
Refrigeration time: 1 hour


½ lb (250 g) chocolate shortbread pastry (see recipe above)
1 ½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
1 cup (250 g) heavy cream (30-40 percent butterfat) or crème fraiche
¼ cup (50 g) butter
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
2 ½ tablespoons (15 g) flour
1 ¼ cups (300 g) whipping cream
½ lb (250 g) milk chocolate

1. Preheat oven to 325 °F (160 °C).

2. Line the baking pan with the chocolate shortbread pastry and bake blind for 15 minutes.

So I had a little fun with this simple little step. Witness.....I rolled out the pastry and it looked just about perfect (especially considering that it was I who was doing this....and I hate making pastry...

so it started out okay

So then, culinary genius that I am, I decided to just pick the whole thing up on the waxed paper and toss it in the pan. I didn't want it to stretch and break while I was lifting it, so I figured this would minimize the whole stretchy misshapen pastry issue. Luckly, hubs was on hand to snap away. Witness again.....


No, thine eyes do not deceive thee. That really is the pastry utterly and completely disintegrating. Don't worry, there's an even better picture...


Oh yeah. It was bad. I think it just *might* be worse than the whole charred shortbread incident...not sure though....

At any rate, I eventually squashed it into the pan, and came up with this:

yes, this is, in fact, the best i can do

Clearly, not that pretty, a little thick and clumsy, but WHATEVER. At least it's one congruous mass, which is more than we can say for the rolled out version, eh? I lined the pastry shell with foil and weighted it down with uncooked brown rice to keep it from puffing. The bottom line is that this pastry recipe's not chocolatey enough to be chocolate and the cinnamon needs to be BANISHED. Blech.

3. In a saucepan, caramelize 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar using the dry method until it turns a golden caramel color. Incorporate the heavy cream or crème fraiche and then add butter. Mix thoroughly. Set aside to cool.

This recipe writer is a total minimalist. The "dry" method means that you are basically heating a pan full of sugar and crossing all the extremities that it doesn't ignite.

not so sure about dry caramel

The jury seems to be out on whether one should or should not touch the caramel while it brown...I couldn't resist, because I was nervous that the bottom parts would scorch and burn before the top had even melted. So ended up with this: it supposed to do that?

Meh. It eventually melted and didn't explode, much to my elation. Woot for that. Thankfully I had been warned about the thermodynamics that would ensue with the next step. Cold whipping cream and bubbling hot caramel make for explosive bedfellows, so I thankfully used a large enough pot to contain all the excitement. I was still completely freaked out though, so that's my ugly oven mitt you see blurred in the foreground.

fun with thermogenics

At this point (once it all calmed down), it was totally one of the best things I've ever tasted in my life. I would willingly eat it with a spoon. OMG. GOOD.

this stuff tastes like werthers.  seriously.  i could sell it.

4. In a mixing bowl, beat the whole eggs with the extra egg yolk, then incorporate the flour.

5. Pour this into the cream-caramel mixture and mix thoroughly.

This part was relatively straighforward. No further drama.

*crossing fingers that eggs don't scramble!)

6. Spread it out in the tart shell and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

I'm not sure if it was really supposed to be spreading consistency, because mine was very much a pouring kinda mixture. But it looked nice.

pretty caramel

Though it didn't set up until about 30 minutes in the oven.

ha!  it set!

7. Prepare the milk chocolate mousse: beat the whipping cream until stiff. Melt the milk chocolate in the microwave or in a bain-marie, and fold it gently into the whipped cream.

So I totally ate at least 100g of milk chocolate at this step. I'm normally a dark chocolate whore, but this stuff just beckoned me with its creamy goodness. It's pretty easy to prepare. I melted the chocolate in the micro:

please don't ask how much chocolate I ate that isn't in this picture

And folded it into the cream. It ended up a touch grainy, but is anyone seriously going to complain about milk chocolate grains in the midst of billowy clouds of whipping cream? If they do, send them my way....

only slightly grainy chocolate mousse

8. Pour the chocolate mousse over the cooled caramel mixture, smoothing it with a spatula. Chill for one hour in the refrigerator.

This step makes me seriously wonder if buddy who wrote this recipe f'ed up his verbs. I POURED the caramel into the pan, but I definitely had to SPREAD the mousse. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm.....mousse......

more handiwork admiration

Thrilled with my handiwork and subsequent kitchen goddess status, I experimented with the ultra narrow depth of field in my new lens...yeah I know...overkill.

fun with narrow depths of field....

Caramel Fragments:

Melt ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar in a saucepan until it reaches an amber color. Pour it onto waxed paper laid out on a flat surface. Leave to cool. Break it into small fragments and stick them lightly into the top of the tart.

I had a little fun with this step. I used some of my leftover ground hazelnuts to make some of my caramel into a sort of hazelnut brittle. It was darn good.

nuts+caramel = brittle?

I also had fun with the regular caramel (which made cooler shapes):

you should totally admire my handiwork

And bashing it all up with a meat mallet was surprisingly therapeutic (I learned the hard way last time that you don't mess with caramelized sugar....)

bashing sugar with a hammer is fun

Of course, like last time I did the DB challenge, this one was also to survive a 200 km trek (different place this time), so I packed it up to go!

before the 200 km trek

Under the cottage country setting sun, a few rays splashed their way across my cake, further melting the top sugary layer.....

cake in the sun

The Verdict:
The components of this cake are interesting. I will NEVER EVER EVER EVER AS LONG AS I LIVE be making that crust again. I hated working with it, and worse, I despised the cinnamon. It was WAY too strong and out of place.

That said, I loved the caramel filling. It was amazing. It was like eating a werthers, except I wasn't wondering how its creamy goodness had been made indefinitely shelf stable. I would make the filling again, in a regular pâte sucrée, and top with whipped cream. And it would make me a hero to whoever ate it.

Last, the milk chocolate mousse was yummy, but I personally found it was lost in this recipe. Don't get me wrong, I scooped it out of the bowl like chocolate was going out of style and I just found the last sale, but it's relatively sweet and not super chocolatey, so it wasn't enough to stand up to the assertive cinnamon and caramel flavours. It would also be good in its own tart, or as a filling in a really decadent chocolate cake.

And I totally want that caramel filling again right now.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out what the other daring bakers created at the blogroll:

Can't wait to see what next month's challenge is!

Monday, August 27, 2007

chickpeas and crêpes.....why not?

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I'm back.

I never really went anywhere, I just needed a little break. But I'm good now, relaxed and I'm HUNGRY for more bloggin'. I'm not sure about you guys, but I just go through stages of laziness, apathy and general distaste for all things domestic (and trust me, my house is a true testament to this lack of inner fortitude).

I do, however, have a full slate of food to make this week. Hubs and I are back into eating healthy (apparently, me eating dill pickle popcorn for dinner is not an acceptable form of nutrition....who knew?), homemade foods that are easy on the pocketbook.

Tonight we were actually supposed to be eating rice and dal (perennial fave), but when I sent the week's plan to hubs, he immediatedly zoned in on Thursday's dinner and asked if we might be able to have the mushroom crêpes chasseur for dins tonight.

This didn't seem to immediately present a problem (I'm never averse to switching around dinners), except that we hadn't actually purchased any groceries yet. SO, I worked until five, met hubs at 6, finally got home at 7 and then tackled this recipe. Which happened to be a mite bit more complex than my regular crêpe recipe. I mean, the crêpe part was pretty much the same, except I had to soak dried mushrooms, make up this mushroom mixture, then make a sauce with the initial mushroom soaking liquid. The crêpe recipe is a little odd - I was somewhat perplexed by the use of chickpea flour, but dutifully picked some up on my way home. Funny enough, at the bulk store, I had to tell the cashier what the heck it was, and that prompted the people in front of me to inquire as to what exactly one might do with chickpea flour.

I could have told the truth and told them I'd never used it before and was merely hoping for the best. But I decided to be an obnoxious know-it-all and informed them that it was excellent in crêpes.

Thankfully, I'm not a liar. Part of the healthy eating plan for hubs and I is to also reduce wine consumption (perhaps this could also be slated under the tightening purse strings plan too) hubs insisted that I cork the bottle of wine needed for this recipe and hide it on him. So I did. It's behind the flour, so he'll definitely never find it. Unless he reads this. But he probably won't (more likelihood of him looking behind the flour). So the wine should be safe. For a day or two, until I decide I want it.

Upshot of this is that I don't recommend this recipe for a weeknight. It's a little time consuming. Not difficult, just long. I would definitely turn it into a little vegetarian french dinner for two though - pair it with a nice salade verte, some onion soup and a nice little pastry-type thing to polish it off. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Mushroom Crêpes Chasseur
(chasseur refers to the red wine sauce. It's good)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour*
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
Cooking spray
4 cups vegetable broth (don't slay me vegetarians, I used homemade chicken stock that I martha'd up myself)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms (about 1/2 ounce) (couldn't buy porcini, so I used chanterelles)
3/4 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
2 (8-ounce) packages button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
8 ounces shiitake mushroom caps, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Add 2 cups water and 2 tablespoons oil, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Let stand 20 minutes.
white flour and chick pea flour

2. Heat an 8-inch crepe pan or nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Dip a paper towel in a small bowl of olive oil and lightly brush the skillet to grease it. Use a scant 1/4 cup of batter per crepe, and flip as soon as the top starts to appear dry. They look a little strange...
not sure why the dark spots are so large

3. Place crepe on a towel; cool. Repeat procedure until all of the batter is used to make 12 crepes. Stack crepes between single layers of wax paper to prevent sticking.

4. Bring broth and 1/2 cup water to a boil in medium saucepan; remove from heat, stir in porcini. Let stand 30 minutes. Strain mixture through a sieve into a bowl; reserve broth mixture and porcini. Add red wine and honey; set aside.

5. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add reserved porcini; sauté 1 minute. Add button and shiitake mushrooms; cook 4 minutes or until mushrooms release moisture, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium, stir in pepper, nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and garlic. Cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add 3/4 cup broth mixture; reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
garlic and mushrooms

6. Bring remaining broth mixture to a boil; cook until reduced to 1 1/2 cups (about 12 minutes). Combine 2 tablespoons water and cornstarch, stirring with a whisk. Stir cornstarch mixture into broth mixture. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes or until sauce thickens. (I used more cornstarch, and I also added 1 T of butter to make it a bit richer).

crepe with mushroom filling

7. Spoon 1/3 cup mushroom mixture in center of each crepe; fold sides and ends over, and place, seam side down, on a plate. Repeat procedure with remaining mushroom mixture and crepes, placing 2 crepes on each of 6 plates. Top each serving with about 1/4 cup sauce; sprinkle with 2 teaspoons parsley.

I only ate one though.
dinner time

I skipped the parsley because I hate it. This was really tasty. I want more.

Thanks for reading and thanks for stickin' with me. I promise you it's worth it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

three for one

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I'm beginning to think that I'm in serious need of a vacation. Lately, I just feel burnt out and useless and like I need to just spend a few days loafing around with no nagging concerns.

Work is busy, home seems busy, and I just want a break.

But I'm not getting one, so here is a quick post, with three tasty meals that I ate in the past week. It's a little too late for me to witticize, but I do have something yummy (hopefully) coming for you all on Thursday. Stay tuned.

The first dish is that last part of my 'eating for free' week. Good things hide in the back of my pantry and in the bowels of my freezer. An army could probably live for a month on the sheer amount of random starchy bits I have stocked up (including a container of some grain....I don't know what it is, and hence have no idea how to cook it).

At any rate, I came up with this when my dad was visiting...somehow, he read of 'eating for free' week, and ended up bringing some of his own food (totally NOT allowed, hehe), as he was fearing for his tummy.

But he needn't have feared. I put a number of italian antipasto staples to work and dinner was tasty, flavourful and very filling. No empty bellies here.

Scooby Doo Pasta with Pesto Cream Sauce
(I know, I know...another seafood pasta....what can I say, it's a household fave)

1/2 lb frozen calamari
1/2 lb frozen scallops
1 lb imitation crab

1 onion
1 jar marinated artichokes
1 jar roasted red pepper
1/2 jar oil-packed sundried tomatoes
1 small jar of pesto
1 tomato
lots of garlic
1 can of evaporated milk (I use skim)
parmesan cheese
pepperoncini peppers (optional)
1 pound pasta (I used scooby doos, also known as tortoglioni...I think...)

1. Put a large pot on the stove to boil.

2. Gather your ingredients in all their prefabricated goodness. Admire.

3. Heat a touch of olive oil in a large skillet, add seafood, onion and garlic.

4. Cook gently (medium-low heat) until almost done. Meanwhile, chop the roasted red pepper, sundried tomatoes, artichokes, and the fresh tomato.

5. Add all this stuff to the pan. Incorporate pesto and evaporated milk (a good substitute for cream - and it won't curdle).

6. Grate parmesan cheese over the pan (makes it extra yummy).

7. When water boils, add pasta and cook to desired tenderness.

8. Serve sauce over pasta, top with parmesan and a pepperoncini if desired (after the photo, I passed mine along to hubs, who was all too pleased to indulge).


YUM. Fast, easy, not the worst thing in the world for you to eat, and a great way to work on cleaning out that pantry!

I was tempted to place this recipe in its own post and title it "eating for poo", but hubs vetoed the idea. So I'm burying the moniker deep in this post, in hopes that he won't read. hehe.

I will explain (and it isn't quite as gross as it sounds). The backstory is that a year or two ago, our dryer was smoking incessantly (like more than your average chain-smoker). We called an appliance repairman to come take a look, and it turned out to be this very cool sicilian guy. Our dryer is located in our basement, and happens to be right next to our rabbit cage (housing our two fat rabbits). This guy was quite excited by the sheer amount of poop these guys generate (must be seen to be believed) and we quickly struck a deal. We give him poo. He gives us fresh home grown veggies (that have, of course, been fertilized by said poo). Hubs is a bit grossed out by this, but I'm happy to play around a bit with backyard bounty I was not given the chance to kill.

Anyway, this time, he came buy with the strangest looking zucchini I've ever seen...apparently, it's some sort of sicilian zucchini.

And it's also huge (almost rabbit-sized....). So this is what I started making with it. Also, ignore the lentil salad in the background. It was not very yummy and I'm not sharing the recipe, because I could barely choke it down. I think I like the idea of a nice lentil salad a lot better than the reality. Pu-ah.

Black Bean and Zucchini Cakes

15 ounces canned black beans, drained and rinsed
2 egg whites
1tsp chopped roasted garlic (I used regular garlic)
1 T ground cumin
1 T chili powder
1 1/3 cup shredded zucchini
1/3 plain whole wheat/grain bread crumbs

1. Mash the beans a bit with the fork, (so there is some whole, and some mushed), mix in the rest of the ingredients.

2. Spray a non stick pan with oil, heat over medium heat. Make mounds in the pan and flatten a bit with the back of spoon. Cook for about 4-8 minutes.

Serve with Salsa and sour cream

Easy and quite tasty.

And then I have yet another risotto. It's starting to be come a favourite. It's yummy, requires few ingredients, and you can vary it with tons of success. Here's a hint - pretty much all risotto is the same - 1.5 cups of rice and about 5 cups of broth. It's just the seasonings that change.

Wild Mushroom Risotto

1 pound mixed wild mushrooms (I used shitake and oyster)
1/4 c. minced shallot
1 T olive oil
1 T butter
1/4 c. white wine (or whatever you have...I used vermouth and it was not bad at all!)
1.5 cups arborio rice
5-6 cups chicken broth
1/2 c. parmesan cheese
1 T butter
2 T fresh herbs (HIGHLY recommend rosemary here, but alas, the store was I used basil...not fragrant enough with the woodsy mushrooms)

1. Chop your mushrooms and shallot. Meanwhile, melt butter with olive oil in a large pot.

2. Add mushrooms and shallot and sauté until shallot is translucent. Add rice and give a good stir (about 30 seconds).

Add your booze of choice. Stir more.

3. Add broth, 1/2 cup at a time, and stir pretty much incessantly for the next 30-35 minutes. When you start to run out of broth, add more. Keep on truckin'

4. When rice is done to your liking (start tasting after about 20 minutes), stop adding broth. Stir in parmesan cheese, butter and fresh herbs.

Taste and see if it needs anything more. Serve immediately (does not keep well).

We were going to have it plain, but hubs was insisting on shrimp. So he sautéed it with about 8 cloves of garlic, a lot of butter and a bit of lemon juice. It was good.


Thanks for visiting, thanks for commenting, and I swear, it won't be two weeks before my next picture post. Your patience with my procrastination is most appreciated.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

and one more thing

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I didn’t take photos of this either, but it got some great reviews, so I thought I should post it.

Hubs and I attended a fabulous bbq on Sunday and ate way too much. I wanted to bring something to the BBQ, but figured that there would already be tons of mains/salads (and I was right!), so I made up a dip. I stole some ideas from Janet - and came up with my own version. Think of it as a cosmopolitan taco dip. I wouldn't serve this to the potato-salad-and-deviled-egg crowd, but if you've got some friends who don't mind a touch of exoticism, this is wonderful. Kinda spicy, kinda sweet, lots of flavour going on.

Bombay Shrimp Curry Dip

1 package light cream cheese (room temperature)
1.5 cups light sour cream
1.5 T curry powder
1 T cumin

1/3 c. (or a little more) hot pepper jelly (I had curry pepper jelly – BONUS) mango chutney would also be a great substitute

½ pound shrimp, cooked and chopped (I just steamed mine)
1 mango, minced
1 t lime zest
2 t lime juice
1/3 c. minced coriander
1 t minced ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1 t tandoori curry paste

1. Use a mixer to combine the cream cheese, sour cream, curry powder, cumin and salt until well-blended. You should taste it and decide if you want more flavour in it. :)

2. Spread the cream cheese mixture in a large platter or pie plate. Refrigerate until set (about ½ hour or so).

3. Top the cream cheese with the pepper jelly. I had a very thin layer and it was actually pretty good that way. A bit of heat, but not too much overwhelming sweetness.

4. In a bowl, combine shrimp, mango, lime zest, juice, coriander, ginger, garlic and curry paste. You may want to add a bit of salt.

5. Spread mixture over top of dip. Serve with naan (or be a cheap arse like me and use greek-style pita).

This dip is a great change of pace from the typical taco dip (which is also great) and a sure-fire winner at any party. I’ll definitely be making this one again. And maybe I'll even take a photo or two next time.

a few things....

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1. I'm a lazy poop. I've cooked, but I didn't take any pictures, so I haven't posted.

2. I am now even more in love with my kitchenaid. I just made my first batch of French bread with it. OMG. SO EASY. SO yummy. Granted, my loaves were more than a little mutant looking, but the taste and texture were fabulous and the fact that I didn't have to spend 10 minutes cursing and swearing at the dough made it all the better. If you have a kitchenaid, you must make bread with it. I am going to be HUGE.

The recipe is in this PDF, on page 61 - It's freaking good. You could halve it though, and still get two tasty loaves.

3. I ate way too much this weekend. From home-smoked ribs to ultra-tasty homemade PB ice cream (not mine, sadly! I SO need an ice cream maker!), I think (actually, correct that, I KNOW) that I gained a few pounds this weekend. Meh.

4. I don't often make the same recipe twice, but there is one manicotti recipe that is just so tasty, I keep coming back to it. I never take pictures because manicotti is one of those dishes that, in theory, is beautifully stuffed pasta, awash with a zesty sauce....but in practice, I usually make a big mess when I take it out of the pan. Not so pretty.

But it's REALLY good and worth the labour. So you should make this. It freezes wel land makes enough to feed 6 hungry people. Also, it's tasty. And an excellent accompaniment to bread.

Chicken Vegetable Manicotti
This recipe is stolen and modified from one of the Looneyspoons books. Can't remember which one, but you should buy all of them anyway.

1 clove garlic, minced (I usually use 3-4)
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into small pieces (I use my food processor - I cut each breast into 3-4 pieces, and then pulse 2-3 times. It's finely chopped and a lot easier than cutting up icky raw chicken by hand...the one time I tried it, it took nearly an hour. So I recommend the food processor route).
1 cup each grated carrots, grated zucchini, and finely chopped mushrooms (*if* the grater attachment of my FP still worked, I would have used it.....I did chop the mushrooms in the FP though)
3 tbsp minced, fresh basil, or 1-1/2 tsp dried (go with fresh!)
1 tbsp minced, fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried (I usually just dump in some italian seasoning)
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 ounces light cream cheese, cut into cubes
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
12 manicotti shells, uncooked (I find it fills more like 14)
3 cups of your favorite low-fat, tomato-based pasta sauce (that would be one can....I usually use nearly two, because I like lots of sauce!)
1/2 cup shredded, part-skim mozzarella cheese (2 ounces)

To make filling:

1. Spray a large, non-stick skillet with non-stick spray. Add garlic and onions. Cook and stir over medium heat until softened, about 2 minutes. Be careful not to burn them.

2. Add chicken, increase heat to medium-high, and cook until no longer pink. Add carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, basil, oregano, and pepper. Cook for 3 more minutes. Add cream cheese and stir until melted. Remove from heat. Stir in ricotta and Parmesan cheeses. Transfer filling to a large bowl and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
While filling is chilling, cook manicotti according to package directions. Rinse with cold water and drain well. (do yourself a favour and undercook the manicotti - as soon as they start getting soft, take 'em out. If you fully cook them, good luck stuffing them!)

3. Using a small fork, stuff shells equally with filling. Spread a thin layer of pasta sauce over bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Arrange stuffed manicotti (it's a tight squeeze). Pour remaining sauce over manicotti and sprinkle with mozzarella.

4. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F. for 40 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.

Yield: 6 servings
Per serving: 404 calories, 10.9 grams fat, 6.1 grams saturated fat, 33.3 grams protein, 43.6 grams carbohydrates, 1.4 grams fiber, 65.6 mg cholesterol, 586.8 mg sodium, percent of calories from fat: 24

Notes: Chicken is easier to cut into small pieces if it's partially frozen. It's easier to stuff manicotti shells if they're slightly undercooked. This also makes them less likely to tear. Drain the cooked shells and rinse them with cold water to stop the cooking process and to keep them from sticking together. Use a teaspoon to stuff them. If you prefer, you can substitute lasagna noodles in this recipe and make lasagna roll-ups, or you can use 24 jumbo pasta shells.

So, no pictures, but you've all seen manicotti before...this looks pretty much the same, but tastes REALLLLLY good. I love this stuff. Can't enough, actually.

Thanks for reading! Hope you didn't eat as much on the long weekend as I did!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

vegetable-free zone

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No green veggies anyway. Perhaps chlorophyll-free zone would be an apter title. Or so hubs told me.


I was all set to make a nice wholesome black bean soup tonight (so maybe now I'll make it tomorrow), but hubs was having none of it. I think his soupy wisdom tooth extraction recovery has turned the poor man off all soups. He wanted fish and chips.

So of course, once he mentioned the idea, *I* also wanted fish and chips.

But I don't deep fry.


So I had to get a little creative, and being that it is still 'eating for free' this week, I wanted to venture a little deeper into the cupboards to investigate what could be had.

The result was actually amazing. This was better than going out for pub grub. This was a little exotic, a touch of fusion and all over an extremely tasty meal.

I definitely should have had veggies, but my fridge is emptying out and I didn't really have too many veggies, so I just didn't make any. I guess one of the advantages of being a pseudo-grown-up is that if I don't want to make any veggies, I just don't have to. (Granted, I would have liked veggies, but must confess to getting a bit of a thrill out of forgoing them). Maybe thrill isn't exactly the right word.

At any rate, this was a little bit of experimentation, but both dishes are wonderful. It's a fun combo together, but either would be fabulous paired with other sides.

Fish&Chips - Fusion Style
seared tilapia with oven fries

Chips...aka Cumin-Spiced Potatoes with Curry Dip
1 large sweet potato
5 large regular potatoes
1/4 c. vegetable/olive oil
1 T cumin
1 t ancho chile powder
1 t thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T mrs. dash extra-spicy

1. In a ginormous bowl, combine oil and spices. Add some salt and pepper.

2. Peel the sweet potato and cut into desired fry size. For the regular potatoes, don't peel them (peel has fibre and vitamins and would be a shame to toss it). Just cut 'em up.

3. Toss potatoes in oil/spice mixture. I like to cook my fries on a silpat because it browns them REALLY nicely without making them stick. Otherwise, you could use parchment paper (works well, doesn't brown quite so much) or well-greased foil (but be careful, because the fries ALWAYS stick to the foil and you lose the nice browned bits!!!!!).
oven fries are so good

4. Bake in a 400F oven for 45-50 minutes, stirring/flipping every 15-20 minutes. The longer you bake them, the crispier they will be. The silpat is great for this.

5. Serve with a curry dipping sauce - I like to mix a bit of hot pepper jelly and curry powder into either low-fat sour cream or fat-free plain yogourt. This time, I used sour cream because that's what I had.
curry sour cream sauce

Fish...aka Wasabi-Crusted Tilapia with Honey Garlic Wine Sauce

4 large tilapia fillets
1 egg
1/3 c. milk
1-2 T light soy sauce

1 c. dried plain breadcrumbs
1-2 T wasabi powder
1 T steak spice
1 T mrs. dash extra-spicy

canola oil

1/3 c. madeira or other sweet wine (could use marsala, sherry or even sake....substitute broth and a bit of honey otherwise)
1/3 c. honey garlic sauce (I used v-h could alternatively use teriyaki sauce)
1/4 c. minced coriander (could use green onions, mint or basil)

1. Cut fish into serving-sized portions (my tilapia comes in almost double-fillets, so I like to cut them down the middle).

2. In a pie plate, combine egg, milk and soy sauce.
egg milk and soy sauce for fish

3. In a bowl, combine bread crumbs, wasabi powder and spices.
plain breadcrumbs, wasabi powder, spices, salt, pep

4. In a large skillet, heat a generous amount of oil. The more oil you use, the better it will taste ;). You don't have to cover the bottom of the pan at all, but 2-3 T is a good start. Heat over medium-high heat.

5. Pat the fish dry with paper towel. Dip in egg mixture, then cover with bread crumbs. Place in pan and brown about 3 minutes on each side. (You can do about 4 pieces at a time). If you have to do it in batches, place the cooked fish in a pan lined with parchment paper (put it over the warming vent on your stove, if you have one). Repeat with remaining fish as necessary, adding more oil for the second batch.

6. Once the fish is all cooked, place pan in oven and reduce temperature to 250F (don't want it to overcook and dry out while you make the sauce). In the still hot (and not cleaned) pan, add in wine, sauce and coriander. Bring to a boil and reduce a bit. Pour hot sauce into a small bowl for serving.

madeira, honey garlic and coriander

7. Serve fish with the honey garlic wine sauce, and fries with the curry dip.

YUMMMMY. I want more. Is that bad?

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