Simple paprika chicken.

I’m a pretty simple cook.  To be frank I’m better at weeknight kind of meals than fancy-pants guest type meals and entertaining. The only menu items I’m consistently able to pull out for any occasion, without poring over cookbooks and stressing out, are pasta and chicken.  The trick for both, especially chicken, is in the spices.  Here’s a quick and tasty version that works for family and guests.

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Pizza. The perfect food?

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about pizza.  Ruminating one might say.

Pizza.  Is there a more perfect food?  I’m hard pressed to think of one. Vegetarian, pescatarian, gluten free, dieting down, bulking up, lactose intolerant…. Seriously.  No matter your dietary proclivities there is always a way to make pizza work for you.

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Cook(those)books & spaghetti.

November seemed to be a slow month in the kitchen at my house.  I must confess, the cook (those) books recipe challenge I set for myself hasn’t been going exceptionally well.  I tried a few new meals last month, but not many, and very few exactly as written.  Which, of course, was the challenge.

I promise that December will be all about cooking.  There will be several new recipes that are challenge approved to start out the new year.  In the meantime, here are a few of the November meals I tried that passed muster. Continue reading

Chicken with Sage.

When I competed as a fitness competitor I used to eat a lot of chicken.  I would eat it every day, often more than once a day.  I practically had feathers.  cluck.

These days I (thankfully) eat it far less.  However the advantage of having eaten so much is that I have a fairly formidable stash of easy chicken recipes.  One of my personal favourites is chicken baked with sage and green olives.  Easy for a week night dinner served with a simple green salad but special enough to be served with risotto and fresh local mushrooms for company.  The best part?  No fitness competitions required.

Chicken with Sage and Olives

Ingredients

  • 3 chicken breasts with the skin on (bone in or out)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup mixed green olives such as cerignola or nocellara
  • 3 sprigs of fresh sage (approximately 8 medium size leaves), chopped (leave some whole)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Optional: 1/4 Dry white wine in place of chicken stock and lemon

Method

  • Cut each chicken breast in half.  Place in bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with half of the sage, and salt and pepper.  Toss.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Heat oil in a large oven proof casserole dish.
  • Sear chicken in dish on top of the stove.  Ensure that some of the garlic and sage gets cooked too.
  • When chicken is seared on all sides, turn off heat.  Pour stock and lemon (or wine) into dish, scraping the drippings off the bottom of the pan.
  • Add olives and remaining sage.
  • Cover and place in oven for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, remove the lid.  If there is no remaining liquid at the bottom of the dish add a bit more stock or wine.  Continue to cook another 15 minutes.
Enjoy.

Monday musings, and meatloaf.

We are raised to believe that Mondays aren’t to be trusted.  Monday, Monday.  Can’t trust that day.  Back to work, back to school, the fun of the weekend is over….it’s just another Manic Monday after all.  But what happens  if you want to play a different tune?

Hmmm…. my positive Monday song lyric search is coming up a blank.

When I awoke, several hours before my alarm, that was all I could think of.  I’m self employed and even I was dreading Monday morning.  (Rainy days and Mondays…) I make my own schedule and still – Yikes!   Tell me why I don’t like Mondays…

So, I did what any normal adult would do (well, normal to me).  I read a cookbbook.  I made a great list of Meatless Monday ideas and then thought “now what”.  Meatloaf.

Okay.  SO not meatless….

Now I’m not a vegetarian and I don’t pretend to be.  But for many reasons I am trying to eat less meat.   Sometimes though comfort food is the way to go.  This week it was meatloaf. Meatloaf it a very personal thing with endless possible variations.   This is my go to version. Tasty and easy it also has a few hidden ingredients to up the “healthy” quotient a bit (which also makes it a great way to sneak in some vegetables at the dinner table).

Now if only Meatloaf had written a song about Mondays.

Ingredients

  • 1lb lean ground beef
  • 1lb lean ground turkey breast
  • 2 whole eggs or 4 egg whites
  • 1c. panko
  • 1 c. shredded brussel sprouts or 1 c finely chopped kale
  • 1 bunch italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion or 4-6 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1-2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 c milk
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
Method
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Mix all ingredients, except ketchup and maple syrup, in a large bowl.
  • Place mixture in a loaf pan.  Cover with tin foil and bake for 45 minutes.
  • While cooking mix the tomato paste and syrup in a small bowl.
  • When meatloaf has been cooking for 45 minutes, remove tin foil, spread the tomato and syrup on the top.  Bake another 5-10 minutes until sauce has crisped.
Serve with roasted vegetables and a fresh green salad.

Brussel Sprouts, welcome back.

Thanksgiving is ridiculously early this year here in Canada.  While I haven’t had much time to sit and research new recipes I’m not worried.  Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t need to be fancy.  Just friends, a big ol’ bird and some simple home cooking.

If your family is anything like mine they have their holiday dinner traditions (even if sometimes you can’t help but wonder why since no one really seems to like them!).  When I was younger, turnip, parsnips and brussel sprouts always seemed to show up uninvited.

Sprouts tend to have a (pretty legitimate) bad rep.  Often served boiled beyond all recognition (with a horrible smell!) it’s no wonder many people don’t like them.  As a member of the brassicas family (like kale, cabbage and cauliflower) brussel sprouts are high in vitamins K & C, folic acid and loaded in dietary fibre.  Cooked properly they are a great little addition to your diet and your table.

With age, thankfully, comes wisdom.  Brussel sprouts are now a welcome fixture on my menu.  This year for the first time I actually grew them in the garden (word to the wise – they take up a lot of real estate!) and they should be ready just in time for Thanksgiving.

If you are willing to give sprouts a second chance try this simple recipe for pan seared sprouts and pancetta.  You just might welcome them back to your family table.

Ingredients

  • 1lb of brussel sprouts
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1-2 tbsp canola oil
  • 5-10 slices of pancetta
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

Method

  • Wash the sprouts and peel off any loose leaves. Place sprouts in top part of steamer and steam until just cooked (approx 10mins).
  • When done rinse with cold water and immediately squeeze lemon juice over top. (Note, all the steps up to this point can be done up to a day ahead to free up stove space and save time.)
  • Before proceeding cut each sprout into either halves or quarters.
  • Very lightly coat bottom of large saute pan with oil.  Cut pancetta into strips.  Slowly cook pancetta until soft, but not overly crispy.
  • When the pancetta is done, remove and place on paper towel to drain.  Pour off any excess grease at bottom of pan.
  • Add garlic to pan. When slightly soft add the sprouts, remaining oil and pepper to taste. Heat through. Re-add pancetta.
  • Toss and serve.

In the interest of full disclosure I still don’t get turnip or parsnips…