Monthly Archives: April 2012

my new go-to potluck contribution.

We were invited to a friend’s place over the weekend to make acquaintance with two of the most adorable wee little lads and welcome them to the world. Couple friends of ours recently welcomed their newest bundles of joy within a couple of weeks of each other and a get-together was organized in their honour. It was a potluck dinner and, having no idea what to bring, decided to make up some fruit skewers. I’m not sure why, but I thought it’d be a good idea. And it was! They were hugely successful. By the end of the meal there was only one skewer left, which was promptly eaten up when our host asked for a volunteer to finish it off!

They’re so easy to make and the kids and the adults alike seemed to enjoy them. I hit up the fruit and veggie market up the street. They had great looking strawberries, bananas and blackberries were on sale. I whipped up some ganache (3 parts chocolate, 1 part heavy cream and a splash of vanilla) which I drizzled over the skewered fruit. Tada! (Somewhat) Healthy yumminess.



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thai meatballs over rice (and some banana blueberry muffins)

I decided to give another Looneyspoons recipe a whirl and make Thai inspired meatballs. Unfortunately, this one wasn’t a success. I thought it was decent (read: edible) but the rest of the fam wasn’t as convinced.  As such, this recipe will be removed from the recipe rotation. Nonetheless, those who had recommended the recipe to me really enjoyed it and the reviews I found online were positive and so I’m going to share it with you anyways! I suppose the mix of flavours just wasn’t for me!

Glad Thai Dings from the Looneyspoons cookbook

1 1/2 pounds extra lean ground beef
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs — unseasoned
3 tablespoons finely minced green onions
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
1 egg
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup light coconut milk
1/3 cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons light peanut butter
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil — or fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 400F. Spray rimmed cookie sheet or large baking dish and set aside.

Meatballs: Combine all meatball ingredients in a large bowl (using hands works best.)

Form meat mixture into 40 1-1 1/2 inch meatballs. Put on prepared pan.

Bake for 18-20 minutes until cooked through and nicely browned.

While meatballs are cooking prepare sauce. In a deep non-stick skillet, whisk together all sauce ingredients. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until sauce boils. Reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 3 minutes, stirring often. Sauce will thicken a bit.

Add cooked meatballs to sauce and mix well.

Serve hot.

I served over rice and asian inspired stir-fried bell peppers. I chopped up some peppers, added a bit of oil to my wok, added a splash of soy and a splash of rice wine vinegar. Voilà!

I also decided to whip up some banana-blueberry muffins. I used my low-fat muffin recipe found here and subbed the chocolate chips for a cup of blueberries and added a couple of tablespoons of ground flax. I added a bit of extra mashed bananas a about a tsp of extra sour cream to compensate for the flax meal.  I made a dozen of these on Saturday morning and there are none left. My eldest may have eaten almost three to himself for breakfast that morning. Healthy and yummy. Can’t go wrong!

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slow cooker baked potato soup with cheddar biscuits

I normally use my slow cooker a lot more than I have been lately. I have a pretty decent collection of crock pot recipes that are family approved. Tonight’s soup is one of those recipes. It’s ridiculously easy to prepare and remarkably delicious for being so simple!

Baked Potato Soup

5 lbs potatoes, peeled and diced in 1 to 2-inch chunks
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper
2 quarts salt-free chicken broth
1 8-ounce packages cream cheese
crumbled bacon, shredded cheddar and green onion or chives as garnish

Peel and dice the potatoes, and put them into the stoneware.

Add onion and garlic.

Sprinkle in the seasonings, and pour in the broth.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for 4. The potatoes should be fork-tender. You can use a potato masher to mash the potatoes in the soup, or a hand-held immersion blender.

After smashing the potatoes, crumble in both packages of cream cheese, and put the lid back on. Cook on high for about 30 minutes, or until the cream cheese is completely dissolved. Stir a few times during the 30 minutes. Sometimes, my cheese doesn’t dissolve very well. When that happens I just give it a quick whir with the blender. Top with bacon, cheddar and green onions/chives.

I served the soup with amazing cheddar biscuits. For some reason I always have a heck of a time with biscuits. The dough is always too sticky, I can’t get the biscuits to turn out moist and light and normally end up with little hard pucks. This recipe worked out just fine and everyone loved them. I may have eaten two biscuits. Shh.

Cheddar Biscuits

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/3 cup butter, cold, cut into chunks
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 – 2/3 cups milk

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt and garlic powder in a large bowl. Add chunks of butter. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut butter into flour until it resembles, pea-sized pebbles. Add oil, grated cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup milk. Stir together and kep adding milk gradually until the dough is no longer dry and powdery. Your dough shouldn’t be sticky but wet enough to hold together.

Drop approximately 1/4 cup portions of the dough onto an un-greased cookie sheet using an ice cream scoop or large spoon.

Bake for 15-17 minutes. Serve warm.


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butter chicken

Craziness. It’s a two-for-one blog post sort of night. The kids went to bed at a (not so) reasonable hour but I’ve chosen to seclude myself in the basement and catch up on the lack of posts.

My eldest was at dance class tonight and I stayed home with the wee-est lad. We’ve started having late dinners on Wednesday nights instead of rushing the kids out the door with snacks and piecemeal dinners.  I discovered that no matter how much I fed kid #1 before his lesson, he still came home demanding a full meal. So dinner’s been pushed back to about 7:15pm on dance night and that means I usually have time for a more intricate meal. Tonight we feasted on butter chicken and naan bread. But don’t be fooled. I don’t make my own naan bread.

The store-bought one is waaaay too convenient and tasty to bother making my own.

I’ve been making this recipe for a year or two now (Thanks Becky!) and although it’s not exactly what you would get in a restaurant, it’s still very good!

Butter chicken
3 tablespoons (45ml) butter
large pinch ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) turmeric
2 teaspoons (10ml) ground coriander
pinch cayenne powder or to taste
2 raw skinless, boneless chicken breasts – cut into bite size pieces
3 tablespoons (45ml) shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened work)
2 cloves of garlic
one inch cube of fresh ginger peeled and chopped
1 cup (250ml) crushed, canned tomatoes with their juice
3 tablespoons (45ml) tomato paste
1/4 cup (60ml) table cream (or coconut milk)
salt to taste

Melt the butter in a large skillet and fry the onion on medium heat until transparent. Don’t let the butter burn. Sprinkle in the cinnamon, turmeric, coriander and cayenne and fry another minute. Add the chicken chunks. Fry until browned on all sides (about 5 minutes)

While the chicken cooks, put the coconut, garlic and ginger into a blender or food processor with about 1/4cup (60ml) warm water and process into a paste. Pour this over the chicken and fry another couple of minutes

Add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste to the mix. Stir and cook about 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the cream or coconut milk.

Serve over hot cooked rice or with Naan bread.

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the world’s best potatoes.

I’ve been neglecting you, my pretties. I know, I know. But I have done so with valid reason. G and I got away this past weekend. Away. Alone. Sans enfants. Adults-only. Freedom. Bliss (a.k.a sleep). I could go on. But you’d be too jealous. So I’ll stop now and brag about how awesome my oven fries are instead.

There’s just something about pulling this out of the oven

that makes you cry tears of joy. Because you just know how absolutely amazing these little pieces of crispy potato goodness are going to be. I have, I truly believe, finally perfected my oven fries recipe. A recipe that I shall now share with you my friends.

Crispy oven fries

3 large yellow flesh or Yukon gold potatoes
2 tbsp of olive oil
Coarse salt

Scrub potatoes, peel and chop into wedges. Soak in cold water for at least half an hour (mine soaked all day in the fridge!) Drain and pat dry using paper towels or a clean dish towel.

Pre-heat oven to 475F (yes. That hot!)

Line a cookie sheet with aluminium foil. (This step is purely optional but G hates doing dishes as much as I do and this makes for a quick clean up)

Drizzle half the oil (1 tbsp) on cookie sheet and brush it across the whole surface using a pastry brush. Sprinkle salt and pepper straight on oil.

Put the potatoes in a bowl toss with remaining oil. Lay them out on the cookie sheet and sprinkle liberally with more salt and pepper.

Roast potatoes in the oven for about 40 minutes or until nice and golden. Remove from oven and revel in the potato perfection.

I served these with salmon cakes with a creamy dill tartar sauce. Which were good, but were quite outshone by my potato masterpiece.

Salmon cakes with dill tartar sauce
Olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 cans salmon, drained
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 cups fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs(slightly more if needed)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 450F. Spray a baking sheet with some cooking spray.

Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook under softened.

Place salmon in bowl and mash with a fork (leave the skin and bones. They mash up just fine and are good for you!) Add the egg and mustard. Mix well. Add onions, breadcrumbs and pepper. Mix again (your hands are the best tools here!) Shape into 8 patties. **If the consistency is too wet, add more breadcrumbs until the mixture is sticky enough to for patties.

Heat 1 tsp olive oil in the pan over medium heat. Add half the patties and cook until the undersides are golden. Turn them over onto the baking sheet & repeat with remaining patties.

Bake the patties until golden on top and heated through, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Dill tartar sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
1 tablespoon minced shallot
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate for about an hour before serving.


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Some repeats!

So far, I have managed to feed the family for a little over two weeks on one grocery shop with the exception of picking up a few fresh fruit and veggies along the way. I’m fairly impressed with myself, although it isn’t a habit I’d like to keep up! It is, however, a great way to clear out the fridge, pantry and freezer.

Due to limited food supplies, it was a repeat meal tonight. We had maple soy marinated salmon, couscous and maple glazed carrots.

I improvised a bit with the couscous and threw in all these ingredients.

I boiled 2 cups of unsalted chicken broth, removed from the heat and threw in a cup of couscous. Stirred and placed pot lid tightly back on pot.  I let it stand for 15 minutes then fluffed the grain up with a fork. I added about 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, the juice of half a large lemon, 1/2 cup of chopped raw almonds, 2 large green onions and almost a cup of chopped cilantro. Added a pinch of salt and pepper, stirred it all up and served.  Turned out great!


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Chicken Pot Pie

I really haven’t contributed much over the past few days. I apologize. I caught the most god-awful cast of strep throat that had me on my back since Saturday. Think sore throat, sore head, sore neck, sore muscles, sore bones, throw a fever of 104F on top of that and give it all a good stir. I finally made it to the dr’s yesterday morning and am finally feeling human again after 36 hours on antibiotics.  This means I haven’t grocery shopping in 10 days and had to figure out what to make for dinner tonight. We could have done take out, but realistically, I hadn’t cooked since last Thursday (Friday was takeout night!) and I was feeling sort of guilty.  I did have 4 small chicken breasts I’d optimistically put in the fridge to thaw out on Sunday and needed use those up before they went bad.  I remembered some frozen pastry dough in the freezer, a head of cauliflower I needed to use up as well as a bunch of potatoes that were so close to growing legs of their own and taking off down the street that I figured chicken pot pie was on the menu tonight!

I didn’t follow a particular recipe so please bear with me as I attempt to remember everything I put in!

Chicken Pot Pie

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup diced onions
1/2 cup diced celery
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup of cauliflower florets (cut up into small bite-sized pieces)
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen corns
1 tsp italian seasoning
1 3/4 cups salt-free chicken broth
1 cup evaporated milk (skim)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups roasted chicken breast, roughly chopped
1 pack of puff pastry dough
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp water

Pre-heat oven to 375. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in large oven-safe pot (I used my dutch oven). Add onions and garlic. Cook until onions begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add celery and carrots and cook for another minute or two. Add cauliflower and potatoes to pot then pour in broth. Add italian seasoning and stir. Bring to a simmer and cover. Allow to cook for about 12-13 minutes until the potatoes are tender but still firm.


In the meantime, whisk evaporated milk and flour together to get rid of any lumps. Add to pot along with frozen peas and corn. Cook and stir until mixture thickens.

Remove from heat and stir in chicken.


On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry dough and cover pot with it. Beat together egg and water. Brush the pastry dough lightly with egg & water mixture. Poke a few holes in the dough and place in oven for 15-20 minutes until pastry dough is golden and flaky. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Dish out and enjoy!


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