Posts Tagged ‘dinner’

Lettuce Wraps

January 3, 2011

Well I guess the holidays are over and it’s back to the grind tomorrow morning. Did Christmas really happen? Is someone playing a joke on me? Seriously?

In all honestly, I really needed the break. From catching up on glorious sleep to spending time with family and friends, I’m feeling pretty good.

One of the highlights of my Christmas break was having the chance to catch up with two of my favourite people, Maija and Anna. For dinner I decided to make my version of Asian Lettuce Wraps, inspired by a meal that I had ordered from a restaurant a few days earlier. While the restaurant version was really great, I definitely thought that it was something I could easily replicate at home. With a simple marinade and some fresh veggies, the meal came together really nicely.  It was so good and so easy, that I made it again for dinner tonight.  

Marinade

  • 4 tbsp soya sauce
  • 2 tbsp Chinese black been and garlic sauce (found in the Asian section at the grocery store)
  • 2 tbsp Oyster sauce (found in the Asian section)
  • 3 tbsp Hoisin sauce (found in the Asian section)
  • 1 tbsp ginger, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 chili or 1 jalapeño, chopped (discard the seeds if you don’t like the spice)
  •  Juice of 1 lime

Protein

  • Thinly sliced chicken or beef (shrimp also works well, but needs less marinating time)

Toppings (use whatever you like)

  • Lettuce leaves
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Carrots, julienned
  • Cucumber, julienned
  • Cilantro
  • Rice
  • Chili or peanut dipping sauce (store bought)

Stir the marinade and add your sliced protein. Mix to coat. Let the meat marinade in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours.

When ready to cook, simply heat some oil in a frying pan (or wok) and place the meat (with the marinade) in the pan. Cook through and serve with your favourite toppings. Roll this all up in a lettuce leaf and you are good to go!

***I added sliced peppers to the mix and cooked up some rice so that I can have a killer stir-fry lunch tomorrow at work.

 Countdown to my next vacation is on! And GO CANADA GO!

Pulled Pork and Winnipeg

November 7, 2010

I’m sitting in a hotel room in Winnipeg, a little confused about what time it actually is. With the extra hour of sleep and change to Central Standard Time, I’m just feeling a bit off. With an early morning Breakfast Television segment, I also should probably be sleeping. I’ll suffer the consequences for my actions tomorrow at 5am.

I’m also here watching reality TV and eating a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos. Pretty low, I know. Please don’t judge me.

I’m typically the type who loves taking the opportunity to venture around new cities, test out the local grub, but it’s dark and deserted out there. At no disrespect to the city (I’m sure that you are lovely), I’m going to sit this one out.  

As I sit here shamefully stuffing my face with junk, I thought I’d at least try and do something productive and put up a post. This one’s pulled pork, another Sunday night favourite in our house. Pulled pork is an incredibly easy recipe, just needs many hours to cook down. Here’s how it goes…

Spice Rub

  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp oregano

Trim off all the extra fat from a pork shoulder (best cut for this). I actually like to trim as much as possible. Mix all these ingredients together and rub them all over the trimmed meat. If possible, refrigerate with the rub on for a few hours, or overnight.

Cover the bottom of a large frying pan with a thin layer of oil and heat on high. Sear the meat on all sides so that the shoulder is a golden brown (even a bit black) all around. Place in a slow cooker or in a 325 degree oven for an hour to continue building a crust.  

After an hour, add 2 cups of beef broth and 1 1/2 cups of your favourite BBQ sauce and cover the Pork Shoulder with foil. Let cook for another 3 hours. After 3 hours, the meat should start to fall apart at the touch of a fork. I like to cook it for another 1-2 hours after this, for ultimate “pulledness”.

Don’t forget to top your sandwich with some homemade creamy coleslaw.

Sure beats a bag of chips…

Seconds

October 25, 2010

I’ve been really busy. Life is busy. I appreciate (or try to appreciate) each day.

Work, birthdays, friends, family, house, boyfriend, yoga and cooking fill up 100% of my time and I love it. The only thing that I can think of that’s missing is more time. That’s why balance is really important and to be honest, I’m still working on it.

I guess I’ve always had the whole concept of “time” on my mind. While moving into our new house, I discovered an old diary of mine. The first entry was a poem I wrote on October 6, 1999 titled Seconds:

Seconds

Time lost in each second is time which has disappeared. Lost in the midst of thoughts, only leaving the ticking echo that is often not heard.

I was 15 and probably freaking out about something, feeling ignored. Or just being a teenager.

Now that I look back at it, I would prefer to interpret my poem the complete opposite way. I think everyone could probably do a little bit of a better job appreciating the ticking clock and what life is all about. I’m lucky enough to have learned what this is all about from my dad.

Anyways, that’s my super cheesy life lesson for today.  

Time can also produce delicious food. Like meatballs!

Meatballs are another one of those meals that are pretty easy to make, but do take a little energy and time. Pour yourself a nice glass of wine and play some tunes and they will be ready in no time (no pun intended). I always like to make a huge pot so that there are plenty of leftovers. I also live with two boys.

Meatballs

  • 1 package ground beef (turkey, chicken or pork)
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 carrot stick, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 10 drops Worcestershire sauce
  • Chopped fresh parsley (to taste)
  • Salt, pepper and chili flakes (to taste)
  • 1 jar tomato sauce (homemade or store bought)

(Tip – instead of chopping all the veggies, I just throw them all in a food processor until they are finely chopped. A couple of pulses and you are done)

Heat the oil in a pan. Sauté the chopped veggies until soft. Turn off the heat and sprinkle in the salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, parmesan and parsley. Set aside to cool.

In a bowl, mix the remaining ingredients. Get down and dirty with your hands, they are the best tool for this. When the veggies have cooled enough to touch, stir the mixture into the meat. Mix really well. If the meat looks dry, add a few drops of water for moisture.

Heat up the tomato sauce in a large pot so that it’s ready to go for when you need it. I like to leave this going on medium low heat.

Start forming your meatballs. When all your meatballs are formed, heat a large pan on medium high and gently brown the meatballs on each side (GENTLY lay them in a single layer in the pan and GENTLY turn them). When browned, add them to the simmering tomato sauce. Don’t overcrowd the pan. You may need to do this in batches.

When all of your meatballs have been added to the tomato sauce, cover the sauce with a lid and let simmer for 45 minutes on medium low. Mix every so often to avoid burning on the bottom.

Serve with your favourite type of pasta and garlic bread.  Mmmmmm….

In other news – Rob Ford, REALLY?

The Garden is Back

September 26, 2010

I don’t even know how long it’s been since my last post, but I am happy to announce that I am ready to pick up where I left off.

The past few months have been incredibly difficult. After a 15 year battle with brain cancer, I lost my father on August 31, 2010. My dad had been in and out of the hospital since February, when we learned that his cancer was back. He underwent lengthy treatments, physiotherapy and attempts at rehabilitation. His last few months were spent in palliative care at Bridgepoint Health. Being just a few minutes away, my visits were very frequent.  It gave me so much joy bringing him home-cooked food, his favourite chocolate and pictures that made him smile. He was the most courageous, giving, thoughtful and sincere person I have ever known. His strength and passion for life, no matter how limited, is something that I will never forget. There isn’t one day that has gone by that I don’t think about him. I really miss him, but know that he is finally free. Thank you to all of my beautiful friends and family for being so supportive.

Cooking has always been my go-to hobby of choice. It helps me relax, keeps me busy and is my way of being creative. I owe much of my passion for food to my dad. He cooked a lot and was pretty good at it. He didn’t complain when I started taking over the family kitchen. He did, however, give me hard time about keeping it clean. He was also a great dishwasher.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that Sunday is my favourite day to cook and today was no exception. I scored an incredible deal on a pork loin big enough to feed a party of 12 for less than ten bucks at the grocery store…perfect for braised tacos. We’re huge fans of Chipotles and I think I did a pretty darn good job replicating their pork carnitas. Braising meat is incredibly simple, you just need time. That’s why doing it on a Sunday is perfect! We’ll also have enough leftovers for lunch (probably until Friday).

Rub Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp chili
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp pepper

Mix all of these spices up in a bowl and rub it into the pork. I like to cut the pork into smaller chunks to speed up the cooking process a bit. This also creates more surface area for the rub. I also cut off much as much excess fat as I can. A little is ok, but I don’t like my braised meat too fatty. This is also a great technique to use with pork shoulder.

For extra flavor, slit the pork in various locations and stuff these slits with chopped garlic and ginger (2 cloves garlic and 1 tbsp ginger is plenty).

Place the coated pieces of meat in a casserole dish and cook uncovered in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes (do not add any liquid or anything else to the casserole during this step). This initial cooking time creates a bit of a crust on the pork before the braising step, as well as a ton of extra flavour.

After 45 minutes, add water to the casserole to fill the dish about 1/3 of the way to the top. I like to add a little bit of beef OR chicken soup base to the water for extra flavour, but this isn’t necessary. Cover the casserole with foil and cook in a 325 oven for 3 hours.

After 3 hours, the meat should fall apart at the touch. Pull it all apart using two forks and top your taco the way you like it! Today, I made coleslaw for extra crunch.

Here’s one of my favourite pictures of my dad and I, summer camping as a kid

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!

Spanikopita

February 24, 2010

I’m back!!!

I don’t really have an excuse this time for taking a hiatus from blogging (other than laziness), but I have certainly missed it. The start of 2010 has been a bit of a bumpy ride and I am now ready to start climbing that ladder of greatness again. I’ve come to understand that life isn’t easy and each new challenge just makes you stronger.

One of my best friends in the world, Maija, came over yesterday for dinner. Maija and I always make all sorts of promises to hangout often and keep in touch. Unfortunately, we don’t always follow through with our plans, but when we do, it’s a guaranteed good time. In our defence, I think that we are getting better and better at it!

Last night I decided to make another one of my all-time favourites for one of my all-time favourite people: Spanikopita (also known as spinach pie).

Spanikopita is another recipe that I learned from my mom when I was quite young. My mom always used the famous Spanikopita recipe from the Moosewood cookbook, a cookbook (and now restaurant) that is based on healthful, natural foods cuisine. Check out http://www.moosewoodrestaurant.com/index.html for more info. Since then, I think that we have both memorized the process of making the dish and enjoy spicing it up with different ingredients.

This time around, I decided to make individual mini spinach pies and was pretty pleased with the result. I definitely recommend this one if you are a spinach and feta fan. It’s actually super simple, but does take a little bit of time for assembly.

Spanikopita  

  • 1 box Phyllo Pastry (found in the freezer section at the grocery store), thawed
  • 2 packages frozen spinach, the chopped kind (you can also use fresh spinach and chop it, but I was feeling lazy) Be sure to thaw and drain any excess water from it
  • Greek Feta (I used half of a container that was the size of a sour cream container)
  • Half a container of cottage cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried sage
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly oil mini loaf tins (or a large casserole dish to make one big pie, instead of individual ones).

In a large frying pan, heat the oil and sauté the onions and garlic until softened a bit (2-5 minutes). Add all the spices (oregano, sage, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper) to the onion and garlic mixture. Be careful not to add too much salt because the feta is pretty salty naturally.

Add the defrosted spinach (I like to pat it dry with a paper towel), and sauté for about a minute until the onions and garlic are incorporated into the spinach. Add the flour and cook and stir for about 2 minutes until the flour dissolves. Add the feta and cottage cheese and turn the heat off the pan. If the mixture is looking too dry, feel free to add a few tablespoons of water or chicken stock. You want it to look thick and moist.

Now you just have to layer the phyllo, one sheet at a time in the mini loaf pans, or casserole. Brush each phyllo sheet with butter before placing the next sheet on top. After you have about 10-15 layers, add the spinach mixture.

Continue to layer and butter the remaining phyllo on top of the spinach mixture about 5-10 more times. At the end, fold in any edges that were overlapping the pan. Make sure you brush the last layer with butter and cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and delicious.  

I served mine with a simple tomato, basil and mozzarella salad.

Congrats Canada for dominated women’s double bobsleigh and men’s hockey tonight!!!!!!!

Thanks for coming over Maija! xx

PiZah!

January 29, 2010

I’m going to try to not rub it in too much, but I had such an amazing day!!!

I had a much-needed day off work that I devoted entirely to myself. I slept in until 9, laid on the couch until 10, had a coffee and went to Body Blitz. For all of you ladies out there that haven’t heard of (or been to) Body Blitz yet, you are missing out! I spent two hours doing the water circuit before my hour-long massage. Maybe it’s my European roots that crave saunas, steam rooms and cold plunges, but it was pretty friggin fantastic. You walk out of this place feeling like a million bucks (and it cured my two-day headache that Advil could not). Check out the website for more info  http://www.bodyblitzspa.com/.

I stopped off at the market on my way home and picked up some pizza dough from the Italian pizza place (not sure what the name is, but it’s on the first floor towards the back on the west side). I’ve tried going through the process of making my own dough several times and it just never tastes as good as the one I get from the market.

Am I sounding like a sales person yet?

Anyways, I rolled out this dough, tossed it around a little bit and topped it with some of my favourite toppings (pretending I was Chef Pasquale). With a little pizza sauce and cheese, this pizza was definitely the perfect end to my perfect day!

*I topped my pizza with fresh Prosciutto, sun-dried black olives and hot peppers.

Steak Dinner

January 25, 2010

I spend a big part of my day talking with writers, journalists and bloggers and not until today, can I honestly understand what it feels like trying to keep up with every story, every idea and every post. Yikes!

Tonight I made homemade chicken pot pie…with a twist, but I’ll have to add this post to my “to do” file. I promise to get it up soon though, because the recipe turned out really well and I’m excited to share it.

The truth is, I’m not ready to let go of the weekend yet.

This past weekend, we indulged. From homemade pizza to a Friday night steak dinner, we definitely ate very well. After a busy week, I was completely content with hibernating, yogaing and eating food that is a little extra special. Even if it meant eating on our “not so special” couch.

On Friday night I made it to the market just before it closed and decided to pick up a couple Striploin steaks. I typically only make steak in the summer on the bbq, but thought I’d give it a shot on the stove top. I paired the steak with some mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables.

Sadly, my steak ended up more on the medium well side, instead of the medium rare side, but it was still great!

Mashed Potatoes:

  • 2-3 Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 2 tbsp light cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 tbsp green onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Peel and cube the potatoes. Place them in a pot with cold water and a pinch of salt and boil them until fork tender. Melt the butter and cream cheese and mix the two together with the milk. Mash the potatoes using a potato masher and add the melted butter, cream cheese and milk. Keep mashing until smooth, but be careful not to over mash because you don’t want the potatoes to get too starchy. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the green onion right before serving.

Mixed Vegetables

  • chopped vegetables of your choice (I used peppers and mushrooms)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tsp chopped ginger
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

In a sauté pan heat the oil on medium high and add the garlic and ginger. Add the vegetables, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and sauté until tender.

Steak

In a large sauté pan, heat a bit of oil on high. Add the steak and brown for about 3 minutes on each side (depending on how you like your steak). A few minutes before serving add some bbq sauce of your choice (optional) to the hot pan and glaze the steak by flipping it over a few times in the sauce.

Who needs The Keg?

Green Curry

January 19, 2010

The week is flying by and my schedule is pretty much maxed out. I love being busy, but sometimes you just need to take a bit of time to chill out and take a break. As my yoga instructors often say…just let go of everything and breath. 

Tonight we’re going to go see Tegan and Sara (love them!), but I wanted to cook up a little something something before heading out. I made a super quick chicken green curry that I thought was pretty amazing. I can’t take full credit for it, because I did get a little help (ok…maybe a lot of help) from the Thai section in the grocery store. One day, when I have my dream kitchen, I will have every spice out there organized perfectly so that I can make everything from scratch (such as curry paste). I’m using that as my excuse, at least this time.

But honestly, I often order green curry at Thai restaurants because I love it so much, but making it tonight (with my store-bought helpers) tasted just as good…if not better. In the time that it takes you to cook rice, the dish is ready!

Chicken Green Curry

  • 1 can coconut milk (I used the reduced fat one)
  • 2-3 tbsp green curry paste (you can get this in the Thai section in the grocery store)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 big handful of green beans
  • 2 chicken breasts, sliced

Start by getting your rice going (I used Jasmine tonight). Then, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the green beans. They will start turning a super bright green colour after about 4 minutes. Once they are at this stage, fill a bowl with cold ice water, drain the beans and shock them in the cold water. This will stop them from cooking and keep them bright green.

In a frying pan, heat about 1 tbsp of oil and add the garlic and ginger. As soon as you can smell them, add the chicken and cook through. Add the coconut milk, green curry paste, chicken stock, brown sugar and simmer for about 10 minutes. About 2 minutes before serving add the peppers and green beans. Et voila!

Time for me to go rock it out!