Archive for March, 2010

Stuffed Shells

March 23, 2010

For whatever reason, I’ve been really taping into my inner Italian.  After all, who can resist the infamous FWPP (fashion, wine, pasta and pizza)? And yes… I did just make that up.

This week, my Sunday night dinner project had stuffed pasta shells on the menu.  I decided to fill them with a Bolognese/lasagna style meat sauce, complete with copious amounts of mozzarella cheese. Is your mouth watering yet?

I was extremely pleased with the result and really enjoyed the leftovers for lunch today. The assembly did take a little bit of time, but the end result was well worth it!

Stuffing

  • 1 package extra lean ground beef (or chicken, sausage, turkey…whatever you prefer)
  • 1 bottle tomato sauce (to avoid sodium induced jar sauces try this recipe by Jamie Oliver)
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 celery stick, roughly chopped
  • ½ an onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups mozzarella cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Start by placing all of the veggies that are coarsely chopped into a food processor (if you don’t have one, you can use a grater, but this method will take much longer). Mix until all the veggies are finely chopped.

In a deep pot, heat 2 tbsp olive oil and sauté the veggie mixture for about 5-10 minutes on medium high to build flavour.

Add the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Add the can of tomato paste and sauté for another 5 minutes to keep building on this flavour.

Add the ground beef and stir until browned. Add the tomato sauce and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring from time to time. Let the mixture cool a little bit before handling and then stir in 2 cups of the grated cheese.

Cook the large pasta shells according to package directions.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees and grease a large baking dish or casserole.

Spoon in about a tbsp of the mixture in each shell and then place in the baking dish, in a single layer. Once all the shells are stuffed, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top (add more if you wish). Bake for about 20 minutes until all the cheese is melted and golden brown.

I served them with asparagus that I roasted on a cookie tray for ten minutes while the shells were in the oven. I drizzled them with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a tsp of dijon mustard, a minced garlic clove and salt and pepper.

Chicken in Wine

March 19, 2010

I’ve been really bad at keeping my blog up to date and I’m out of excuses. I’m not even going to try and give you one.  The good news is that I haven’t stopped cooking. I’ve actually made some great meals that I’m really proud of and promise to get them all up here eventually. Pinky swear.

Weekend cooking is probably one of my favourite things to do. Last weekend I was pacing the isles of the grocery store for ideas and inspiration. After what seemed like hours, I left the store with a whole chicken, vegetables and potatoes. I wanted to take a stab at making some sort of “Coque-au-vin” dinner. I’m no Julia Child, so I asked the butcher at Sobeys if he could cut up the chicken into pieces for me (I wanted all of them). He actually flat out said no. Can you believe that?

I’ve seen it done many times before on the Food Network and I guess it was time for me to try it out. It was actually a lot easier than I thought. My cut up pieces of chicken were almost perfect… if I do say so myself. I even used all the leftover bones and pieces to make homemade chicken stock that I used to complete my recipe. Just place all the bones, etc. in a pot, cover with water, add carrots, celery, onion, a few bay leaves, salt and pepper and simmer for a few hours. It really couldn’t be any easier.

My “coque-au-vin” is no traditional version so I’m just calling it chicken in wine sauce. I used white wine, instead of red and didn’t start by frying bacon. Sorry Madame Child. I will try your infamous recipe one of these days!

Chicken in Wine

  • 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces (skin on and bone in)
  • 1 bottle of white wine
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp ground sage
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper

Start by heating the oil in a dutch oven or deep pot. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. When the pot is hot, add the chicken pieces, skin side down and cook until golden brown. Flip the pieces and repeat on the second side. Remove all the chicken and set aside.

In the leftover oil sauté the garlic and onions gently on medium heat. Season them with salt and pepper and add the sage. Add the wine and chicken stock. Place the chicken back in and simmer on low for an hour or so. Remove the chicken pieces again and set aside.

In a bowl, mix the butter and flour together to form a paste. Add about a cup or two of the wine sauce to the paste and whisk vigorously. Then pour this mixture into the pot with the remaining sauce and keep whisking. The sauce will thicken instantly. Cook for a few minutes to cook out the flour taste.  Add the chicken back in et voila! It’s ready.

I served this with mashed potatoes (check out my Steak Dinner post for a great recipe) and baked carrots. I drizzled olive oil, honey, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper over peeled carrots and baked them in a 425 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes. Yum!