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Friday, August 29, 2014

DIY: Brownie Mix

This was made because we were out of boxed mix, and I promised the husband brownies. I knew it couldn't be terribly difficult to make brownies, but I like the convenience of the box (because I'm not much of a baker)

A quick google, a recipe for brownie mix, a test run, a proclamation of "these are better than boxed" and here we are.  

Can be customized (add chocolate chips, rolos, cookie dough) but plain are just fine by me. These took about 5 minutes to throw together (three bags, one to make in the bowl). 

I did use a little water to thin mine out a little, but we have a winner! 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

One Pot: Thirty Minute Jambalaya

The Husband LOVES Jambalaya. Every time we go to a certain restaurant, he always has the same thing. I posted it here, and still make it on special occasions, but because it contains shrimp (an essential ingredient to that dish, apparently), I don't make it often because I can't (won't) eat it.

I also don't make it often because I don't really have the kind of time required. Story of my life...
This I made on a week night - I prep the vegetables and seasonings on the weekend and have it all ready to throw in the pot when I get home at night.

THIRTY MINUTE JAMBALAYA

INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 lb chicken breast, diced
  • 1lb smoked sausage, sliced
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun/Creole Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 cups beef stock (if using brown rice) or 2 1/2 cups beef stock (if using white rice)
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups uncooked white or brown rice
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

 DIRECTIONS:
  1. In a bowl mix together the cayenne, Creole seasoning and onion powder - then add the chicken and sausage and mix until they're coated in seasoning.
  2. Heat the olive oil, then cook the chicken and sausage over medium heat until browned.
  3. Add onion, pepper, celery and garlic and cook until vegetables are just tender.
  4. Add stock, tomatoes, rice, bay leaves, Worcestershire and bring to a boil.
  5. Turn heat to low, cover pot with lid, and cook for 20 minutes (if using white rice) or 45-50 minutes (if using brown rice).
  6. Check near the end of cooking time and if the mixture is dry, add more broth or water.


    Monday, August 25, 2014

    Chicken & Broccoli Stuffed Shells




    A few components to this, but I like to make this ahead on a Sunday, and bake on a Monday night after I get home with the toddler and baby. Dinner can be on the table pretty quickly, with minimal effort from me! That's just how I like it during the week. Leaves me free to go tackle all the other things I need to get done before bedtime - and find the time to relax too.



    These make GREAT leftovers, so be sure to snag a couple of shells (leftover stealth!) before you serve it to ravenous husbands and children so you don't have to make lunch the next day too.

    INGREDIENTS:
    • 21 jumbo pasta shells (about 2/3 of a box)
    • 1 jar (16 ounces) Alfredo sauce (or make your own!)
    • 2 cups chopped broccoli, lightly steamed
    • 2 cups diced cooked chicken
    • I onion, diced and sauteed until transparent
    • 1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
    • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp pepper
    DIRECTIONS:

    1. Boil the pasta shells in plenty of salted water to just cooked (al dente)
    2. Meanwhile, In a large bowl, combine the all other ingredients.
    3. When the pasta is cool enough to handle, spoon them mixture into the shells. 
    4. Place in a greased baking dish, cover and bake at 350° for 25 minutes, then take the cover off and bake for a further 5-10 minutes.


    Friday, August 22, 2014

    Muffin Tin Lunch #4

    I seem to post muffin tin lunches on Friday.
    Good on me?!

    Lol, here's the most recent one. We gave H a deconstructed version of what we ate for dinner the previous night.




    Wednesday, August 20, 2014

    (Spicy) Thai Beef Salad



    It's summer! Season of salads!

    Combining some of my favourite flavours, this is a great one. A little spicy, so maybe not for the kids - unless they like their salad with a kick.

    WARM THAI BEEF SALAD

    • 1 lb new york strip steak or stir fry beef
    Marinade
    • 1⁄4 cup tamari (or soy)
    • 1 tbsp fish sauce  
    • 1⁄4 cup mirin, or lemon or lime juice
    • 1 tbsp ginger, grated
    Salad
    • 2 cups salad greens – include rocket (arugula)and baby spinach
    • 1 english cucumber finely sliced
    • 4 small red thai chillies, finely sliced (optional)  
    • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 1⁄2 cup fresh Vietnamese mint (ordinary mint leaves will work too)
    • 1 cup bean sprouts
    • 6 spring onions, sliced diagonally
    • snow peas
    • 1 cup fresh cilantro or basil leaves
    Dressing
    • 1 tbsp tamari (or soy)
    • 1 tbsp lemon or lime juice
    • 1 tbsp ginger, grated
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1 tbsp honey
    • chilli flakes
    DIRECTIONS:
    1. Marinate steak in tamari, fish sauce, mirin and ginger for at least 2 hours in the fridge.
    2. Drain and discard marinade.
    3. Cook steak on the grill, or in a hot skillet until browned on both sides and cooked to taste.
    4. Cool slightly and slice thinly.
    5. In a large bowl, combine all the salad ingredients.
    6. Whisk together the dressing ingredients (or put them in a jar and shake)
    7. Add beef and dressing to salad and mix well.

    Monday, August 18, 2014

    Penne with Blue Cheese and Arugula

    We had a pile of blue cheese in the fridge. Awful problem to have, I know.... anyway, we bought a Costco sized tub of blue cheese crumbles, and although we have used a ton making Blue Cheese topped Pork Chops, I wanted to get some use out of it in a different way.

    A quick look around some of my favourite blogs and sites, and I found this from Mary Ellen's Cooking CreationsAside from being an awesome cook and owner of a double-barreled first name (which I love), she's a really cool lady, so it was a no-brainer to use one of her recipes. 


    Go check out her blog - but be warned it will make you HUNGRY. Thanks, Mary Ellen!


    This came together VERY fast - if you make the sauce while the pasta boils, you can serve this in 15 minutes.


    PENNE WITH BLUE CHEESE AND ARUGULA


    INGREDIENTS:

    • 1/2 pound penne pasta
    • 4 cups arugula (Aussies/Kiwis - this is rocket)
    • 1 Tbs. butter
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1.5 cups half and half
    • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
    • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
    DIRECTIONS:
    1. Add salt to a big pot of water, and bring to the boil.
    2. Cook pasta , drain, set aside.
    3. Melt butter in a large pan. Add garlic and saute 1-2 minutes.
    4. Add half and half and simmer, then whisk in the blue cheese until it melts and blends in, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
    5. Add pasta and toss.
    6. Add arugula and toss until wilted - taste, and add more salt/pepper if needed.

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    DIY: Cream of Chicken Soup



    While I'm all about convenience and making meals fast, there are a few shortcuts that I prefer not to make - but cutting out all the recipes that involve Cream of Chicken or Cream of Mushroom soup etc would be a shame (because some of them are awesome comfort foods), especially when there is a healthier way to achieve the same result!

    I make double batches of this, and freeze in 1.5 Cup portions - so I have it on hand whenever I need it. 

    Source: Adapted from Stephanie Cooks

    Note: This can be made vegetarian by subbing chicken broth for vegetable broth (do I get an award for stating the obvious, or something?)

    Yields 3 cups of soup (1.5 cups is the equivalent of one can of soup)

    INGREDIENTS
    1 tsp olive oil
    1 small onion, diced very fine
    1 clove of garlic, minced
    1 1/2 cups chicken broth
    1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
    1 1/2 cups milk (divided)
    3/4 cup flour

    DIRECTIONS
    1. In medium-sized saucepan, heat the olive oil and saute the onion and garlic until soft.
    2. Add the together the broth, 1/2 cup of the milk, and the seasonings and bring to the boil.
    3. Whisk together the remaining 1 cup of milk and flour and add while whisking the boiling mixture and continue whisking until mixture boils and thickens.
    4. Cool, and use as directed in your favourite recipe
    IF FREEZING:
    1. Cool, and freeze in 1.5 cup portions (I do this in plastic freezer bags and freeze them flat for easier thawing)

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

    Roasted Beet & Feta Salad


    This rocked. My first foray into cooking my own beets! It was super easy, and I think made the world of difference to the end dish (as opposed to using canned).

    The Food Critic thought it was fabulous, and didn't even douse it in ranch/blue cheese dressing/hot sauce/sweet chilli. That's huge. He douses everything in one or other of those things. Hot sauce is nasty. It makes me sneeze.

    ROASTED BEET & FETA SALAD

    INGREDIENTS:
    • 4-6 small fresh beets, peeled and sliced into 1/4 - 1/3in rounds 
    • 1 tsp olive oil
    • salt and pepper
    • crumbled feta, to taste
    • 5 oz baby arugula 
    • 1/4 c. roasted walnuts, chopped
    • 1/2c. yellow and red cherry tomatoes

    Dressing

    • 3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
    • 1 tsp dijon mustard
    • 1 garlic clove, minced 
    • 1 tsp minced fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
    Large glass of wine. Essential. For sipping while you cook.

    DIRECTIONS:
    1. Preheat oven to 450 and line a small baking dish or baking sheet (with a lip) with heavy foil – this will make cleanup easier!
    2. Place beet rounds into prepared baking pan and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper.
    3. Place in oven and bake until cooked through, about 30 minutes.
    4. Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine white wine vinegar, dijon mustard, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper and whisk to combine - while continually whisking, slowly drizzle in olive oil to combine and emulsify.  
    5. Taste dressing and adjust seasoning to your liking.
    6. When beets are done, remove from oven and place foil in bowl and into fridge to cool. 
    7. In a large bowl, combine the arugula, tomatoes and walnuts. Drizzle the dressing over it and toss.
    8. Once beets are cooled, arrange the salad mix on the platter, put the beets on top, and sprinkle with feta.



    Monday, August 11, 2014

    Baked Southwestern Eggrolls


    I have never made an eggroll (spring rolls to the Aussies/Kiwis). I've made gyoza/potstickers before, with great results, so was excited to try my hand at this.

    Whenever we see southwestern eggrolls on a menu, we always order them. Definitely overdue to make them at home!

    Next time I'll be more careful with how full I stuff them, as a few did burst open. I'm considering a double wrapper method too, to help with that (and be able to stuff lots in them).

    We scarfed these down pretty quick, and dipped them in the Avocado/Cilantro dressing - which was an amazing flavour combination. 

    Source: Adapted only slightly from Emilybites.com

    SOUTHWESTERN EGGROLLS

    INGREDIENTS:
    2 cups frozen corn, thawed
    1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
    2 cups grated cheese (I used cheddar)
    1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
    4 scallions (green onions), chopped

    1/4 cup chopped cilantro
    1 (4 oz) can of green chiles, drained
    1 tsp ground cumin
    ½ tsp chili powder
    1 tsp salt
    ½ tsp black pepper

    24 egg roll wrappers (1 package)

    DIRECTIONS:

    1. Preheat the oven to 425. Lightly mist two baking sheets with olive oil and set aside.
    2. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the egg roll wrappers and stir to thoroughly combine.
    3. Pour some water into a small dish and set aside. On a flat surface, place an egg roll wrapper, corner facing toward you (like a diamond) and put ¼ cup of the mixture from the bowl on the center of the wrapper. 
    4. Spread the mixture in a horizontal line from the left corner to the right corner of the wonton wrapper, leaving ½ inch or so of space on each side. Fold the bottom corner closest to you up over the ingredients and give it a 90 degree roll. Fold the side corners in and tuck them as you give the filled section another 90 degree roll. Dip your finger in the dish or reserved water and lightly wet the edges of the remaining top corner of the wrapper. Finish rolling the filled egg roll over the wet corner so that it adheres. Place wrapped egg roll onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
    5. When all of the egg rolls are wrapped and on the baking sheets, lightly brush the tops with oil. 
    6. Bake for 14-15 minutes, flipping once halfway through, until the wrappers are golden brown. 
    7. Serve with avocado/cilantro "dressing" for dipping.

    The Ultimate (Fighting Champion) Dinner Salad with Avocado/Cilantro Dressing


    OK, sure. This is not a "recipe" for salad. But c'mon - how good does that look? It is the ultimate fighting champion of salads dinner salad! All our friends are there, and you'll leave the table feeling satisfied.

    Add the dressing and you have a really healthy dinner, packed with flavor. The husband said he'd eat this every day for the rest of his life. High praise indeed.

    So, let's talk about the dressing. Is it a dressing? A dip? I don't discriminate. Use it how you like.  I seriously ate wanted to eat this with a spoon. Look at that colour! It's a tiny bit fabulous. Seriously. You need to make it. TODAY.

    We use it on all kinds of salads, not just the one pictured above and as a dip for these Southwestern Eggrolls

    Source: http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com

    AVOCADO/CILANTRO DRESSING

    INGREDIENTS:
    • 2 ripe avocados, peeled and seeded
    • 3 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt 
    • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    • 2 tablespoons chopped green onion
    • 1 small jalapeƱo pepper, chopped and seeds removed
    • Juice of one lime
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
    • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

    DIRECTIONS:
    Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

    Friday, August 8, 2014

    Wednesday, August 6, 2014

    Bacon, Parmesan & Arugula Potato Salad

    I make this potato salad so much, it's like a signature dish and it's regularly requested.

    It originated from friends in New Zealand (Hi Pies & Boozy!) who brought it to a barbecue once, and I've been obsessed with it ever since. I have no idea how this compares to the original.  I kind of just throw it all together, without measuring... you'll figure out what works best for you.

    It's a really simple potato salad, but when you use the best quality ingredients - it's amaaaaazing.

    The combination of the peppery, spicy arugula (don't sub spinach), the salty bacon, the parmesan.... aaahhh... I'd have eaten this for breakfast if there had been any left.

    Important
    Mayonnaise: I use Best Foods, also called Hellmans. It's just better. They should probably pay me to say that. Hi Best Foods. Contact me. Let's be BFFs.
    Parmesan:   Either shave it fresh yourself, or buy shaved. Pre shredded, bagged parmesan just doesn't give it the same flavour.
    Amounts:   Go ahead and double this and HIDE THE LEFTOVERS (Hi Mark, you sneaky bugger)

    INGREDIENTS:
    3lb new potatoes/fingerling potatoes or yukon gold potatoes
    1lb bacon
    5oz (approximately) arugula
    1/2 cup (approximately) mayonnaise
    Shaved parmesan cheese
    Course ground pepper

    DIRECTIONS:

    Boil the potatoes in salted water until cooked, but not mushy. 

    Meanwhile, cook the bacon until it is crispy, drain on a paper towel.

    Drain the potatoes and rinse them in cold water. Put them in the fridge to hang out until you are ready to serve.

    Right before serving, mix cool potatoes, arugula, mayonnaise, parmesan, bacon and pepper together. Taste, and adjust seasoning and mayo content as needed.

    Monday, August 4, 2014

    One Pot Spiced Chicken with Toasted Couscous

    Sometimes dinner has to happen about 30 minutes after I walk in the door. With a 2.5year old and a 4 (is it 5 now? I forget) month old, and working full time, this can be somewhat of a challenge. 

    Thankfully, this dish can be prepped ahead (chop the onions, mince the garlic, dice the chicken, peel and cut the carrots, dice the apricots and measure the spices out) the night before, and be ready to go when you hit the kitchen after work.

    I'm always looking for dinners that are appealing to the whole family, not just a picky toddler. The toddler declared excitedly "OATMEAL?" when I put this on the table. That being said, he was more interested in playing with his firetruck than eating dinner.

    Good thing it was good for all of us, or it would have been such a waste! There are leftovers, so I'll try him again.... soon. 

    Note: I found Israeli Couscous in Trader Joe's (after a search of my local grocery store only offered the smaller, regular kind)

    This recipe was adapted from Weelicious

    ONE POT SPICED CHICKEN WITH TOASTED COUSCOUS

    INGREDIENTS:
    • 1.5 cups israeli couscous
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 medium onion, diced
    • 3 garlic clove, minced
    • 1lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts – cut into small pieces
    • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch coins
    • 1/2 cup diced dried apricots (I had some leftover from making Cream Cheese & Apricot Scones)
    • 2.5 cups low sodium chicken stock
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley (or 1 teaspoon fresh) for garnish
    DIRECTIONS:
    1. In large skillet, or dutch oven, dry toast the couscous over a medium heat, until golden brown. Keep a close eye on it because it can happen really fast and burn! Remove couscous to a plate.
    2. Heat the oil in the pan. Add the onions and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes, until soft.
    3. Add the couscous back to the pan, along with all the remaining ingredients and stir to combine well.
    4. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10-12 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through, and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
    Serve to your toddler who will refuse it, and eat yogurt for dinner instead



    Wednesday, July 30, 2014

    Chick Pea Salad


    Garbanzo Bean, Chick Pea - I don't mind what you call it, I just call this awesome.
    Simple, good ingredients, some time hanging out in the fridge, and you have a really good (and good for you) side dish.

    I knew the husband would like this a lot, so I did stealth leftovers. ie, I put some aside for myself before I even served it... I'm not ashamed. 

    Hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

    Source: adapted from www.thegardengrazer.com

    CHICK PEA SALAD


    INGREDIENTS:
    • 1/2 english cucumber
    • 2-3 ripe roma tomatoes
    • 1/2 large red bell pepper
    • 1/2 small red onion
    • 15 oz. can chick peas, drained and rinsed

     For the dressing
    • 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 2 tsp. oregano
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp pepper

    DIRECTIONS:
    1. Make the dressing: in a small bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk to combine. Set aside.
    2. Dice the cucumber, onion, bell pepper and tomatoes (removing any excess liquid from tomatoes).
    3. Put vegetables and garbanzo beans in a large bowl.
    4. Add dressing and toss to combine.
    5. Refrigerate for at least an hour to let flavors combine. Some dressing will settle on the bottom, so stir before serving.


    Monday, July 28, 2014

    Earl Grey Tea Cookies




    I'm a huge fan of tea, especially Earl Grey. I love the taste of course, but the scent is amazing. I've cooked with Earl Grey tea before, I made Earl Grey Peach Preserves a while ago and it was so good, that when I spotted this recipe I knew it was going to be a winner.

    I used decaf Earl Grey, because I had it hanging about in the cupboard leftover from when I was pregnant and was trying to follow the rules about caffeine. The attempt to self ban didn't last long, and my family, work colleagues and the general public were probably relieved when I brought caffeine back into my life!

    The orange zest in these is essential - I could smell it all through the house when baking, and it definitely takes these delicate little cookies to the next level of YUM.

    Source: Women's Day Magazine

    EARL GREY TEA COOKIES


    INGREDIENTS:

      • 2 3/4 cup(s) all-purpose flour
      • 2 tablespoon(s) fine Earl Grey tea leaves (we used 8 tea bags)
      • 1/2 teaspoon(s) baking powder
      • 1/4 teaspoon(s) kosher salt
      • 1 cup(s) (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
      • 3/4 cup(s) granulated sugar
      • 1 large egg
      • 1 teaspoon(s) grated orange zest
                    DIRECTIONS:

                      1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, tea leaves, baking powder, and salt.
                      2. In a food processor, process the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the egg and orange zest and pulse to combine. Add the flour mixture and pulse to combine.
                      3. Transfer the mixture to a lightly floured surface and roll into two logs, about 2 inch in diameter. Wrap each in plastic wrap, tightly twisting the ends, and chill for at least 30 minutes.
                      4. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line large baking sheets with parchment paper, OR use a baking stone.
                      5.  Slice the cookies 1/8 inch thick and place on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them 1 inch apart.
                      6. Bake 14 to 16 minutes.
                      7. Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.




                                  DIRECTIONS:

                                  Friday, July 25, 2014

                                  Muffin Tin Lunch #2

                                  I'm really just posting these to refer back to when I need some ideas on what to give H for lunch. He eats well, so these are just for fun - he loves them!

                                  Hope it gives someone out there a few ideas as well :)

                                  Recipes for:



                                  Wednesday, July 23, 2014

                                  Quinoa Coconut Granola Bars


                                  I'm well and truly on the quinoa bandwagon. It's something we only tried recently, but it's become a favourite in our household. I love the flavor of it, and the fact that it packs a decent nutritional punch is a major bonus.

                                  I threw these together on a Saturday afternoon while the boys napped - and think they're delicious. Looking forward to adding them to my lunch bag!

                                  Source: Adapted from Superhealthy Kids

                                  QUINOA COCONUT GRANOLA BARS


                                  INGREDIENTS:
                                  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
                                  • 1 cup 7 grain cereal or oats (not the quick kind)
                                  • 1/2 cups coconut
                                  • 1 cup dried cranberries
                                  • 1/4 tsp salt
                                  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
                                  • 1/2 cup honey
                                  • 1/4 cup molasses
                                  • 1 Tablespoon oil
                                  • 3 Tablespoon brown sugar

                                  DIRECTIONS:
                                  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
                                  2. Grease a ceramic or glass 9X13 inch baking dish (or use a brownie pan like I did)
                                  3. Spread oats and quinoa on a cookie sheet and toast in preheated oven for 8 minutes. Return mixture to a large bowl and add coconut, and dried cranberries. 
                                  4. In a medium saucepan, combine salt, peanut butter, honey, molasses, oil, and brown sugar. 
                                  5. Bring to a boil over medium heat and immediately remove from heat.
                                  6. Pour over oats mixture and combine until dry ingredients are evenly coated. Pour into baking dish.
                                  7. Press mixture down into pan. Bake for 20 minutes, watching carefully – they burn easily. If using a brownie pan, check on them at about 10 mins. Once they are browned on the edges, take them out.
                                  8. Let cool, and serve.

                                  Monday, July 21, 2014

                                  Chicken, White Bean & Sweet Potato Nuggets


                                  Although I'm not at all adverse to using frozen chicken nuggets. Sure, I buy the "good kind", but I love making my own and being able to add in a few things to boost their nutritional value.

                                  These I made ahead and kept in the fridge ready for a quick dinner during the week.

                                  If making them for little ones, go easy on the salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. H loved them (eventually), but the husband said "tastes like thanksgiving... in a nugget" which I can see! (hey, maybe I'll add cranberries and green beans next time to complete the theme! ha)

                                  Source: adapted from onehandedcooks.com.au

                                  CHICKEN, WHITE BEAN & SWEET POTATO NUGGETS

                                  INGREDIENTS:
                                  • 1 cup diced sweet potato
                                  • 2 large chicken breasts
                                  • 1 can of white beans, drained and rinsed
                                  • 1 onion, chopped
                                  • 1/2 tsp seasoned salt
                                  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
                                  • 1 tbsp poultry seasoning
                                  • 2 cups crushed cracker crumbs or breadcrumbs
                                  • Olive oil

                                   DIRECTIONS:
                                  1. Boil the sweet potato and beans until soft, and set aside.
                                  2. In a food processor, process the onion until finely chopped. Add the chicken breast and process until a mince texture forms. Transfer mixture to a large bowl.
                                  3. Add the sweet potato, beans, spices and herbs to the chicken mixture. Mix until well combined.
                                  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
                                  5. Place your cracker crumbs or breadcrumbs in a bowl
                                  6. Take teaspoon amounts of chicken mixture and roll into balls. Dip in the crumbs.
                                  7. Place on the baking tray, flatten to form a nugget, and continue with the remaining mixture.
                                  8. Lightly brush the nuggets with olive oil, or spray using an oil mister
                                  9. Bake for around 20 minutes or until the chicken in cooked through (165°F)


                                  Wednesday, July 16, 2014

                                  DIY: Poultry Seasoning


                                  Not really a recipe, more of a "here's what I do"

                                  As many recipes I use call for "poultry seasoning blend", I make my own, since much like all of the spice blends you find in the grocery store, they're all able to be substituted using herbs and spices you already have in your pantry. No need for an extra purchase, or to pay a premium price for someone to blend it for you. Also good for my mates in the other hemisphere, who might not be able to find these things in their stores!

                                  I left dried parsley out of this particular blend - and prefer to control the salt in a dish myself, so didn't add that either.

                                  INGREDIENTS:
                                  • 2 tsp rubbed sage
                                  • 1 tsp dried thyme
                                  • 1 tsp dried marjoram
                                  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
                                  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

                                  DIRECTIONS:
                                  1. Blend all the ingredients in a mortar and pestle and grind together.
                                  2. Keep in an airtight container

                                  Monday, July 14, 2014

                                  Baked Chicken Chimichangas


                                  Chimichangas are rumored to have originated right here in Arizona (in Tucson), and are a popular dish here. They're typically deep fried, but I baked these and they were proclaimed "the best chimichanga I ever ate". I have no idea how many chimis the husband has eaten, but I'll take that as a compliment!

                                  I was a little concerned that the tortillas would bust apart, or not adhere right, but they did and it was awesome.

                                  SUPER filling, I could only eat one, the husband ate two, and my Mum ate most of hers, but had to pass the rest off to the husband to finish (so kind of him to help her out, right?). I did add a can of black beans, extra seasonings, and fresh cilantro to our mixture 

                                  I could have served rice, beans and guacamole with them, instead I cut up some avocado, slathered it in sriracha and sour cream and called it "done"

                                  This recipe made 6 large chimichangas - I hope you make these and enjoy them as much as we did!

                                  Adapted from: Menu Managed

                                  BAKED CHICKEN CHIMICHANGAS

                                  INGREDIENTS:

                                  • 8oz pkg. cream cheese (easier to work with at room temp - a 30 second blast in the microwave will speed things up)
                                  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
                                  • 1 tsp crushed red peppers (chili flakes for the Aussies/Kiwis)
                                  • 2 Tbsp. taco seasoning
                                  • 1 tsp garlic powder
                                  • 1/2 tsp salt
                                  • 1/2 tsp pepper
                                  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
                                  • 1 can black beans
                                  • 1 lb. cooked chicken, shredded
                                  • 6 flour tortillas (burrito sized)
                                  • olive oil/cooking spray
                                  Optional:
                                  • shredded cheddar cheese
                                  • green onions 
                                  • sour cream
                                  • salsa 
                                  • sriracha (or other hot sauce)
                                  • sliced black olives
                                  DIRECTIONS:
                                  1. Combine cream cheese, cheese, and seasonings.
                                  2. Fold in beans and chicken.
                                  3. Add about a cup of mixture to each tortilla, fold in the sides, and roll up.
                                  4. Lay seam side down in a baking dish or baking stone.
                                  5. Spray tops of tortillas with olive oil in a mister, or use cooking spray. You could just brush it on too.
                                  6. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
                                  7. Turn chimis over, and bake an additional 15 minutes
                                  8. If using, flip the chimis over, and add some cheddar cheese and broil for a few minutes until cheese melts.
                                  9. Garnish with green onions, sour cream, salsa, sriracha, olives- whatever you like!

                                  Friday, July 11, 2014

                                  Muffin Tin Lunches


                                  Anyone who has a toddler can agree that sometimes you have to get a little creative to get them to eat... well, anything.

                                  I was a wonderful parent, before I had kids... I swore that my children would eat what was put in front of them, and would not complain. They'd clear their plates and tell me what a wonderful meal it was, then they'd happily skip into the kitchen and do the dishes.

                                  I'll wait here while you clutch your stomach from laughing... at me.

                                  Mmmhmm....Hi there. My name is Kylee. I buy cheese in Mickey Mouse shapes so that my toddler may deign to eat it (all: Hiiiii Kylee)

                                  I also tempt my kid with different things by presenting them in such a way that appeals to him - making him think "hey, I have a choice here!"

                                  Enter, the "Muffin Tin Lunch". Nothing new or exciting or mind-blowing. Just a muffin tin with:

                                  • Sugar snap peas
                                  • Cheese
                                  • Grapes
                                  • Cherry tomatoes
                                  • A peanut butter sandwich cut into fingers

                                  Check out my other ideas for child-friendly foods

                                  Tell me YOUR ideas for toddler wrangling?!


                                  H happily eating his lunch

                                  Wednesday, July 9, 2014

                                  Cocktail: Orange Creamsicle Martini


                                  When I was pregnant with my first son, I was addicted to orange creme slushies from Sonic. I would crave them like crazy, and when I got one, I was in total heaven.

                                  This drink was not and IS not appropriate for those currently pregnant, but it is one of my favourite ways to enjoy the same flavors of the orange creamsicle with an alcoholic kick.

                                  I saw this on a friend's blog a while back and have been making them ever since. I no longer bother to measure the ingredients (I might use a littttle more vodka than originally called for and I'm not sorry).

                                  It does call for whipped cream vodka (Aussies and Kiwis - Smirnoff makes one that you can find in your stores) and I don't recommend switching it out for regular. It really makes the difference!

                                  I skip the whipped cream and orange garnish when I make them at home for just me - but when I have guests around, I pull it out and make it look fancy.

                                  SourceCookaholic Wife as seen on The Redhead Baker (Thanks Nichole and Coleen!)

                                  ORANGE CREAMSICLE MARTINI

                                  INGREDIENTS:

                                  • Ice cubes
                                  • 3/4 cup no-pulp orange juice
                                  • 1/4 cup half and half
                                  • 1/4 cup whipped cream flavored vodka
                                  • whipped cream, for garnish
                                  • orange slice, for garnish
                                  DIRECTIONS:
                                  1. Place ice cubes in a cocktail shaker.
                                  2. Combine the orange juice, half and half and vodka, pour over the ice.
                                  3. Shake for 30 seconds.
                                  4. Strain into a martini glass.
                                  5. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and an orange slice. 

                                  6. Sip and enjoy. Or gulp, whatever. I'm not judging you.

                                  Monday, July 7, 2014

                                  Chicken Tamale Pie


                                  I do love me some one pot dinners (are we seeing a theme here yet?) This one was a lot more filling than expected. It fed two garbage guts guys, my Mum and me and we still had leftovers. The toddler didn't bother to try this one, and opted for yogurt. Whatever. More for me!

                                  It isn't overly spicy (but you could kick it up a notch if you aren't attempting to feed kids) but has a lovely, robust flavor. 

                                  Aussies and Kiwis and anyone who doesn't have access to crescent rolls (Hi Mum!): You could use flaky pastry dough instead and it would rock. Probably more so, since more dough is always good!

                                  Give it a try!

                                  Source: Adapted from www.pillsbury.com

                                  CHICKEN TAMALE PIE

                                  INGREDIENTS


                                  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced small
                                  • 1 medium onion, diced
                                  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
                                  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
                                  • 1/2 teaspooon ground coriander
                                  • Salt and pepper
                                  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (plus more for garnish)
                                  • 2 cans (4.5 oz each) chopped green chillies
                                  • 1 can (14.75 oz) cream style sweet corn
                                  • 1lb package of ready made polenta, cut into 1/2-inch slices
                                  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese 
                                  • 1 can crescent rolls

                                  DIRECTIONS

                                  1. Heat oven to 350°F. 
                                  2. Heat skillet over medium heat. Add chicken, and onions and stir fry until browned. Add garlic, cumin and coriander, salt and pepper and cook for a further minute or two.
                                  3. Add cilantro, chillies and corn; stir to combine. Cook about 3 minutes or until heated.
                                  4. Remove from heat. Top with cheese. Arrange polenta slices in an layer on top.
                                  5. Unroll dough; separate into 8 triangles. Place shortest side of each triangle on rim of skillet over cheese with dough point in center.
                                  6. Bake 17 to 20 minutes or until dough is golden brown. Carefully remove skillet from oven. 
                                  7. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting into wedges to serve.