Monthly Archives: March 2012

A whole chicken in the slow cooker?!


This week has been my typical nightmare week for meal planning. We’ve been so busy that I’ve eaten out three times this week and probably spent more on those meals than I did for three weeks worth of groceries. Ugh! I know there’s nothing inherently wrong with eating sometimes, but I just can’t help but feel dissatisfied when spending so much on food when I know it’s entirely possible to feed everyone for a lot less.

I’ve also been quite the slacker when it comes to posting this week. I blame it being cold again that the thought of trudging down to the office in our unheated basement was entirely unappealing. Or, I can just admit to just being tired and utterly lazy.

Wednesday, I made a whole chicken in the slow cooker. A whole chicken? In the slow cooker? I’m sure you don’t believe me. But really, it’s as easy as it sounds. Take a whole chicken, season with salt and pepper, place an onion, a clove of garlic, some celery and carrots into the cavity and plop into your crock pot. Cook on low for 6-7 hours. It comes out pretty moist, very flavourful and ready to eat! Don’t be alarmed by the liquid at the bottom of the pot, totally normal. I usually pick apart the chicken, throw the bones back into that liquid, add a carrot or two, celery, onion, some black pepper, salt, fresh thyme and whatever fresh herbs I have on hand, add water and cook it on low overnight. Voila! Chicken broth!

I served the chicken with Pioneer Woman’s Crash Hot Potatoes (If you haven’t made these, DOOOO IT. Best.potatoes.ever. Trust me! ) and fresh green beans tossed with butter and toasted almonds.

With my leftover chicken, I made BBQ Chicken Pizza, which I served last night.  Great way to use leftovers and “spice up” your standard everyday pizza.

BBQ Chicken Pizza
Whole Wheat Flax Pizza Dough (see recipe HERE)
2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 medium red onion, sliced
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
1/4 cup pizza sauce
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups cooked chicken, diced
1.5 cups mozzarella, shredded

Preheat oven to 425F. Roll out pizza dough and place on baking sheet. Pre-bake for 6-8 minutes until barely golden. Remove from oven. In the meantime heat oil in pan and fry onions and mushrooms over medium heat until onions are soft and slightly caramelized. Mix 1 tbsp of pizza sauce and 1 tbsp of bbq sauce together, spread over dough. Mix together remaining sauces and pour over diced chicken. Stir.
Spread mushroom and onion mixture on dough, then top with chicken. Sprinkle cheese over top everything.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until cheese is melted and crusty is golden.

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Bacon, Apple and Cheddar Frittata


… or how to use up leftovers in your fridge. I had an almost full dozen eggs just about to expire, a seemingly endless package of smoked bacon I desperately needed to use up and a giant bag of Macintosh apples in the fridge.  What does one do with all those ingredients? Throw them all together and create a culinary masterpiece.  She’s off her rocker, you must be thinking. But no! She is not. Behold the amazingness that is the bacon, apple and cheddar frittata. Everyone gobbled it up. In fact, Mr T. was done inhaling his dinner before I had actually finished a slice of tomato.

Bacon, Apple and Cheddar Frittata
4 or 5 slices of bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, sliced
8 eggs
2 egg whites
3/4 cup shredded cheddar
Freshly ground pepper
Coarse sea salt
2 apples, cored and quartered (slices should be about 1/8″ thick)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat an ovenproof skillet or cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Throw in bacon and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until bacon is cooked and onions are slightly caramelized.

Whisk eggs, egg whites, and half the cheese in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper (I went light on the salt because of the bacon).

Add egg mixture to bacon and onion mixture. Allow to cook 1 to 2 minutes until edge is set. Arrange apples on top in a circular pattern, starting from the outside edge, and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Place skillet in oven and cook for approximately 20 minutes until fully cooked through and cheese has browned. The yummy masterpiece comes out looking beautiful, just like this:

Serve up with whatever side you like. We went with a garden salad.

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Make this soup! (no. really. make it now)


This is probably our favourite soup; our being G and I. The kids never seem to eat my soup despite me making some almost weekly. Meh.  Tough luck, kiddos!   This soup is perfect  (almost!) healthy one pot meal. We served it with some cheesy toast on crusty bread.  The soup freezes well – very useful since this recipe makes a fairly large batch.

Butternut Squash Soup with Bacon and apples
6 bacon slices, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 Granny Smith apple, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 lbs butternut squash soup, peeled, seeded and cut into small chunks
32 oz vegetable or chicken broth
2-3 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup milk (or whipping cream if you’re daring!)
Sour cream as garnish

Cook bacon slices in a large soup spot. Remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings. Crumble bacon, and set aside.3

Sauté onion and carrots in bacon drippings over medium-high heat until onion is tender (about 5 minutes). Add celery and apple, and sauté for approximately 2 minutes. Add garlic, and cook for 30 seconds. Add butternut squash and chicken broth. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until squash is tender.

Process squash mixture, in batches, in a blender, food processor or using an immersion blender until smooth.

Return to pot. Add lime juice and next 7 ingredients. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes or until thickened. Serve topped with a dollop of sour cream and bacon.

DSC_0369

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Stovetop Chili Mac


Ah Saturdays. It doesn’t seem to matter that I have a whole day off to get all my crap done, I always seem to run out of time to actually get everything I wanted to achieved done.  Maybe that’s because I ended up flaking out on the couch and taking an almost 2-hour long nap while the kids were sleeping? Oops. guilty as charged. I did manage a meal plan, to make dinner as well as soup for tonight’s dinner. Last night we had Stovetop Chili Mac, which I adapted from a Martha Stewart Recipe. It was OK. I’d make it again because it was quick and easy, but it lacked quite a bit of oooomf, despite my adding more salt, pepper and spices to it all.

Stovetop Chili Mac

Coarse salt and ground pepper
3/4 pound rigatoni or other tube-shaped pasta (I used rotini. It’s all I had!)
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 small yellow onion, diced small
1 pound ground beef chuck (85 percent lean)
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp paprika
1 cup corn kernels, thawed
1 small zucchini, diced medium
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
2 ounces cheddar, grated (3/4 cup)

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and return to pot. Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat oil over medium. Add garlic and onion and cook until onion is translucent, 3 minutes.

Increase heat to medium-high, add beef, and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add spices and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.

Add corn and zucchini and cook until zucchini is crisp-tender, 2 minutes.

Add tomatoes and juice, bring to a simmer, and cook until mixture is heated through, about 3 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide pasta among four bowls (i had a lot more than 4 bowls of food!), top with meat sauce, and sprinkle with cheese.

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Burgers & BBQ potatoes.


Inevitably, if one of the two kids gets sick, I get sick. I woke up yesterday feeling what I’d describe as funky but trudged my way into town. I stopped at the world’s best coffee shop (shout out, Jimmy’s Coffee!) for my daily double Americano and stumbled into work. About halfway through my normally delicious coffee I felt horrible. The coffee actually made its way into the trash, and by 11:30, I was making my way back to the car to get home. Home, where I promptly spent the rest of the time passed out on the couch until it was time to fetch my spawn from daycare. I then tossed them out into the backyard with their father while I made them a fantastic homemade box of Annie’s Mac n’Cheese. I even threw in a couple of handfuls of frozen peas. That makes it a balanced meal, right?  Why am I telling you this? Well because that’s my awesome recipe to share. A box of mac n’cheese and frozen peas. A delightful feast.

I made up for it tonight with some homemade bbq’ed burgers and potatoes with a side of (still) leftover beet salad for myself, and raw veggies for the boys.

My burgers are pretty straightforward. I just use about 1 to 1.5 lbs of our extra lean ground beef and throw in a tablespoon or two of Montreal Steak spice, mix and form into patties and grill. I’m not a fan of beef burgers with any other “fillers” (onion, egg, breadcrumbs, etc) in them. The steak spice gives the meat just enough flavour and seasoning to make the perfect burger. I must say that this doesn’t really work well with cheaper supermarket ground beef. I find that ground beef is too watery and usually needs at least some breadcrumbs, if not an egg, to bind the patties together.

As for the potatoes, I haven’t made this recipe in forever and forgot how much I love it. It’s PERFECT for the BBQ. The potatoes always have the right balance of heat, sweetness and saltiness to them.

BBQ Potatoes

2 tbsp olive oil or butter (melted)
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 to 1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 lbs medium-sized potatoes, quartered

Combine olive oil, chili powder, honey, garlic powder and pepper in a bowl. Add potatoes and toss to coat. Spoon potatoes into aluminium foil and seal into a pouch. Roast on bbq about 30 minutes, flipping pouch over half way, until potatoes are cooked and tender.

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Slow Cooker Coconut Curry


“I suuuuuuuuuuure love curry,” my kid would say. So why wouldn’t he eat any tonight? Kids (and husbands…) They’re an unpredictable bunch, that’s for sure. This recipe for curry is sumptuous, low-fat and so easy to whip together. You’ll be thanking me forever! It’s normally served with chicken, but I used stewing beef because that’s what I had on hand in the freezer (note, I also have enough beef in my freezer to feed three or four large families for a year. I gotta use it up somewhere!)

Slow cooker Coconut Curry
2 lbs, chicken cut into cubes (or beef, or any meat you want really. This would be awesome with veggies and legumes such as potatoes, cauliflower, chickpeas. You could even throw in spinach. Darn. Why didn’t I think of that last one earlier?!)
1 whole onion, peeled and halved
2 cloves of garlic
1 whole green pepper, seeded and quartered
1 can tomato paste (See C? Sometimes you need a WHOLE CAN!)
1 can low-fat coconut milk
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp curry powder (I used 2 tbsp of curry paste. What can I say? I suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure love curry!)
1 tbsp garam masala
2 whole dried chili peppers (I left these out for my children’s sake)
2 tbsp water
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
Cilantro, chopped

Place meat cubes inside the slow cooker.

Place the remaining ingredients (except chili peppers, cornstarch, water and coriander) in a food processor (or blender!) and pulverize until the mix is smooth(ish). Pour sauce mix on top of the chicken, mix well, add hot peppers if using any, then close the lid. Cook on low for 6 hours.

Yeah that looks appetizing right? Trust me though. It’s fabulous! The sauce looks like alien puke because I used two green peppers. REALLY!

An hour before serving, mix together water and cornstarch until the cornstarch is completely dissolved. Add to the curry and mix well. Place the lid back on for the rest of the cooking time. I also added some frozen peas and a couple of diced carrots at this stage.

Serve on basmati rice and sprinkle with a generous handful of cilantro (if you remember to!)

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Pasta with spicy oven roasted tomato sauce


The one perk of staying home with a sick kid is that while they sleep it off, you can get lots of fun stuff like cooking (yay) and laundry (boo!) out of the way. Thanks to M sleeping for a little over 3 hours yesterday, I was able to prep a some meals for the next couple of days. Tonight we had bow-tie pasta tossed in a spicy oven roasted tomato sauce with a roasted beet and shallot salad. The sauce is another recipe I borrowed from the Looneyspoons cookbook. It’s really a no-brainer, mess free recipe to make… I mean bacon, onion and garlic? how can you go wrong?! The extra sauce freezes really well, too.

Spicy Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce
2 lbs plum tomatoes, quartered
1 1/2 cups chopped red onion
4 slices bacon, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp dried basil and dried oregano
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp each freshly ground pepper and crushed red pepper fkales
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan checese

Add tomatoes, onions, bacon and garlic to a roasting pan or oven-safe dish. Mix well and spread evenly in pan.

Roast, uncovered at 400F for 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven. Add vinegar, basil and oregano. Mix well and return pan to oven. Roast for 15 more minutes and remove from oven.

Allow to cool slightly then transfer roasted vegetable mixture to a blender or food processor.

  

Work in batches if necessary and puree until smooth.

Transfer mixture to a medium sauce pan. Add tomato paste, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Bring sauce to a boil then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes. Serve over your choice of pasta!

Today’s Cooking Tip: Unused TomatoPaste

Ever wonder what to do with extra tomato paste when you only need a tablespoon or two in a recipe? Line a cookie tray with wax paper then dole out the left over tomato paste in 1 tbsp servings on the sheet. Place in freezer until paste is hardened then transfer into a ziplock bag and keep in the freezer. This way, everything is already measured out for you next time you  need tomato paste and nothing goes to waste!

Roasted Beet Salad
I’m the only one who eats beets, but I love them so much that I’ll often roast up a bunch of beets (especially when on sale like this week. I bought them for $0,29/lb!) and make this salad up for the week.

2 lbs of beets, scrubbed and greens cut off
2 tbsp olive oil
salt
pepper
1 shallot, thinly sliced
Balsamic vinegar

If beets are large, quarter them. Otherwise you can leave them whole. Toss the beets in 1 tbsp of olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Wrap the seasoned beets in aluminium foil and roast at 375F for about 1h15-1h30 until tender and the skins come off easily. Peeling the roasted beets is messy (expect some red fingers… it’s a badge of honour!) but pretty easy. If roasted long enough, the peel should just slip off.

Allow beets to cool and place them in a bowl.Throw in the sliced shallot, a little more olive oil, a dash or two of balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.  This salad is also amazing served with goat cheese and nuts!

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