Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Braised meats are so delicious, especially when it's cold and gloomy outside. This is my favorite beef stew recipe. Prep is about 30 minutes, then it has to cook in the oven for 1 1/2 hours, so plan ahead! It taste great warmed up in a frying pan the next day too!

Beef Stew
Recipe adapted from: The Food Channel

1 1/2 pounds stewing beef cubes
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup shallots, minced
2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups beef stock or broth
3/4 cup red wine (or grape or cranberry juice)
1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
1/2 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, crushed
5 thyme sprigs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Season beef with salt and pepper to taste.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
Add meat to pot, searing on all sides until dark brown. Remove meat from pot.
Add shallots and garlic to the Dutch oven. If necessary add remaining oil. Sweat for 5 minutes.
Add tomato paste and cook until paste becomes fragrant and dark red, approximately 3 minutes.
Reduce heat to low and add flour.
Whisk in beef stock, breaking up any lumps. Add wine, fish sauce, black peppercorns, thyme, salt and pepper. Simmer over low heat until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Add the reserved beef to the sauce and bring to a boil. Cover and place in oven. Cook until tender, about 1 1/2 hours. (Sauce should continue to be at a light simmer while in the oven. If the sauce stops simmering bring it back to a simmer on the stove top and return to the oven.)

Sunday, March 3, 2013


I have been craving a meal I have not had in at least 5 years, if not more. A couple of restaurant around here have a killer plate of chicken brochette over rice pilaf served alongside roasted potatoes and a garden salad with creamy and thick garlic sauce.

I had a commitment free Sunday this weekend, the first in I don't know how long, so I set out to replicate this meal.

Boneless chicken breasts were cubed and were marinated in store-bought "mediterranean" sauce while I checked my cookbooks for recipes for rice, potatoes and garlic sauce. I came up with zilch.

So I entered the dish I was craving into Google and trusted the first link that came up. It also helped that the blogger who provided the recipes said that she had eaten at a restaurant near where I live when she moved to Eastern Ontario.

So I made the potatoes first, since they have to roast for 50 minutes. Peeled and cut potatoes into wedges, then tossed them into a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, zest, rosemary and thyme, salt and pepper.

Lemon Potatoessource: Australian Women's Weekly cookbook via A Little Bit of this, A Little Bite of That

12 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp grated lemon rind
2 tsp dried rosemary
2 tsp dried thyme
fresh ground black pepper and salt

Preheat oven to 400F. Place diced potatoes in a bowl. Combine remaining ingredients. Once combined, pour over potatoes and stir well to coat. Place potatoes on rimmed baking sheet and cook for 50 mins.

For the rice pilaf, onion, carrots and celery get sauteed in oil, then thyme, oregano and salt get added in for flavor. I used basmati rice and toasted it in the saucepan with the veggies, before adding chicken broth. The rice simmers for 20 minutes over medium heat.

Rice Pilafsource: thebestmomontheblock.blogspot.com via A Little Bit of this, A Little Bite of That

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 med carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
3 cups of chicken stock or water
kosher salt to taste

Heat the oil in a pot and add the onion, carrot, celery and zucchini and sauté for a few minutes. Add the oregano, thyme and salt. Now add the rice and stir to brown for about 2 minutes. Add the stock, stir and cover. Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is light and fluffy (about 20 minutes).

I was also craving that thick and creamy garlic sauce, but had trouble finding a recipe. I finally settled for a recipe that didn't call for mayo or sour cream, but it was way thinner than I had wanted it to be. I added a spoonful of mayo hoping it would thicken it up, but it didn't. In any case, even if it was more of a salad dressing then the dipping sauce I was hoping for, I really enjoyed the flavor. 

Creamy garlic sauce
recipe source: Pinterest

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp lemon juice
3-5 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp honey

Combine all ingredients in a blender.

Loved this meal. Tasted like summer.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


We had spinach artichoke dip as an appetizer at a restaurant a little while back and we were reflecting on the fact that mixed with pasta, it would make a really good meal. Well I thought we had this conversation, but my husband had no recollection of this.

I had a bag of spinach in the fridge, so I made this for dinner tonight.

Not quite like the spinach artichoke dip we had, but it made a good pasta. I would have liked some kind of acidity in there (I desperately wanted to add ketchup to it, but refrained), and I should have salted it a bit more, but it was good.

I plan on tossing the leftovers in the oven tomorrow, see if it will bubble up and brown from all the cheese in this dish.

Spinach Dip Pasta
recipe source : fabulous foods

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups 2 percent milk
2 cups light cream
12 ounces macaroni noodles
22 ounces fresh spinach, chopped
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 cup grated Champagne white cheddar cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Dash of salt and pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions and set aside.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until just soft, or about 2 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook another 3 minutes. Stir in the flour until a thick roux forms. Reduce the heat to medium and whisk in 2 cups of milk. Add in the remaining 2 cups of cream, whisking constantly. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil, while stirring, about 8 minutes. Sauce should be pretty thick.
Season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the cheese, spinach and additional salt and pepper. Stir until the mixture is fully combined and thick. Stir in the macaroni noodles. Serve warm and enjoy!

Monday, October 8, 2012


I like baked beans once in a while, but only my mom's recipe. I spent a whole hour looking for it this morning, thinking I would adapt it to cook in the oven for six hours instead of doing it over two days in the slow cooker. I'm not organized enough to do this over two days!

So basically, the beans get boiled for two minutes, then the rest of the ingredients get combined with the beans and they go in the oven for four hours. I guess you're supposed to add water after the four hours and bake the beans uncovered for another two hours, but I didn't add the extra water, and only baked them for another hour and they came out perfect!

We had them for dinner with homemade pretzel rolls to mop up all the good stuff! The only thing I regret is not having hot dogs to chop into the beans! Would have been so good. We might have to eat the leftover beans on top of hot dogs later this week!

Baked Beans
recipe from my mom, method adapted from Betty Crocker

2 cups dried navy beans (1 lb) sorted and rinsed
10 cups water
8 slices of bacon, sliced into thin strips
1/2 cup chopped  onions
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup chili sauce (heinz)
2 tsp dried mustard
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt

Heat oven to  350 degrees F.

In an ovenproof 4-quart Dutch oven, heat beans and 10 cups water to boiling. Boil uncovered for 2 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Cover and bake 4 hours, stirring occasionally.

If too dry, add up to 3 cups water. Bake uncovered 1 to 2 hours longer, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender and desired consistency.

*And yes, I put ketchup over my baked beans, and pretty much everything else. I apologize for not getting a picture before the ketchup, but really, it doesn't look much more appetizing without the ketchup.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


My mom makes great chicken soup, but I've never had much luck. Usually my soup tastes bland. And I have a bad habit of adding way too many noodles, and the broth kinda disappears and it becomes a pasta dish. A flavorless one at that.

So I was really surprised when I tasted this soup! It was good. A bit too salty, but still! Better than bland! And it didn't have any noodles, but dumplings. Or Grand-Pères in my family. Grand-Pères were not a common occurrence in our house growing up, so it was always special when my mom made them. I've made them a few times over the years since I've moved out, but never realized how easy they are to make until I made this soup.

Chicken Soup and Dumplings
recipe adapted from America's Test Kitchen

8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
3 small onions, chopped fine
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
3 celery ribs chopped fine
1/3 cup dry sherry
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup Chopped fresh parsley leaves

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup buttermilk, cold
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled about 5 minutes
1 large egg white

1. Pat chicken thighs dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chicken thighs, skin-side down, and cook until skin is crisp and well browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Using tongs, turn chicken pieces and brown on second side, 5 to 7 minutes longer; transfer to large plate. Discard all but 1 teaspoon fat from pot.

2. Add onions, carrots, and celery to now-empty pot; cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in sherry, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in broth and thyme. Return chicken thighs, with any accumulated juices, to pot. Bring to simmer, cover, and cook until thigh meat offers no resistance when poked with tip of paring knife but still clings to bones, 45 to 55 minutes.

3. Remove pot from heat and transfer chicken to cutting board. Allow broth to settle 5 minutes, then skim fat from surface using wide spoon or ladle. When cool enough to handle, remove and discard skin from chicken. Using fingers or fork, pull meat from chicken thighs and cut into 1-inch pieces. Return meat to pot.

4. FOR THE DUMPLINGS Whisk flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Combine buttermilk and melted butter in medium bowl, stirring until butter forms small clumps; whisk in egg white. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until just incorporated and batter pulls away from sides of bowl.

5. Return stew to simmer; stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Using greased tablespoon portion scoop, scoop level amount of batter and drop over top of soup, spacing about ¼ inch apart. Wrap lid of Dutch oven with clean kitchen towel (keeping towel away from heat source) and cover pot. Simmer gently until dumplings have doubled in size and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 13 to 16 minutes. Serve immediately.

I have a feeling we'll be eating this dish a few times over the coming months! Perfect for fall and winter.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Before going back to work this week, after more than a year of maternity leave, I started freaking out about meals, and how I was going to get everything done. So I took a day out of my weekend, and made a bunch of food. Most of it didn't turn out, but this pizza sauce sure did.

It's super easy, I made it while my dough was rising, and very flavorful. It had a good consistency, and a little kick. It was my first time making homemade sauce, so I don't have much to compare it to, but it sure beats the stuff from the squeezable bottle!

Zesty Pizza Sauce
recipe adapted from Life's Ambrosia

1 (680 ml) can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 heaping tsp minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
3/4 teaspoon fennel seed
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper depending on the amount of spice you like
heaping 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon allspice
Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until it starts to bubble slightly, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Use on your favorite pizza.

We're pretty boring here, when it comes to pizza, but when you have a great crust and a flavorful sauce, you don't need much else. My husband's side had pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers, onions and extra cheese, mine had mushrooms, green peppers, onions easy on the cheese, and the girls had a plain pepperoni and cheese portion. Love that you can customize home made pizza so easily. I stretch out my dough into a parchment lined baking sheet, spread on the sauce, add the toppings, sprinkle with cheese and bake it in a 450 oven for 20 minutes, keeping an eye on it for the last few minutes so the cheese doesn't get too brown. Super easy, everybody loves pizza, and there's usually leftovers, great hot or cold, pretty much any time of day.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011


    I wish I had more recipes for one skillet meals. With school starting up again, my going back to work after being on maternity leave for over a year, four mouths to feed... I'm starting to stress about weeknight dinners. After being away from my husband and kids all day, the last thing I want to do is spend an hour in the kitchen trying to keep them away from the stove while I try to figure something out for dinner. 

    I have a feeling that this meal will make be featured on the menu quite often. I've adapted from The Cooking Photographer to suit our tastes and to up the veggie content. I'm sure the original is awesome, but when pressed for time, I like to use what I have on hand.
    Chili Mac
    1 ¼ pounds ground beef
    1 onion
    2 celery stalks
    2 carrots
    1 tbsp chili powder
    1 teaspoon onion powder
    1 tbsp tex mex seasoning
    1 teaspoon salt
    3 garlic cloves, minced
    1 tablespoon brown sugar
    1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
    1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
    8 ounces (2 cups) small pasta
    2 cups water
    1 1/2 cups shredded cheese
    Freshly ground pepper
    Sour cream & parsley for garnish (optional)
    Using the food processor, chop the onion, the carrots and the celery. Add the veggies and the ground beaf to a large non stick skillet and cook over medium high heat. When the meat is no longer pink, strain off the grease, and add seasonings, garlic and brown sugar. Cook over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant.
    Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, pasta, and 2 cups water. Stir to combine, cover and keep at a high simmer for about 14 minutes or until juices are absorbed and pasta is tender.
    Stir in cheese and season with freshly ground pepper. Taste for salt and add if needed. Garnish with sour cream and parsley if desired.
    It's quick and easy, and most importantly, everybody loves it.