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Pizza Pasta

It can be a real challenge cooking for a toddler. Miss M was going through a chicken finger phase for the last little while and I had to get her out of it somehow. She hasn’t been eating pizza lately either, which was strange, but she does seem to like pasta. I stumbled upon this recipe while visiting Chef Michael Smith’s website www.chefmichaelsmith.com and it sounded so delicious I HAD to give it a try. I was hesitant to buy 4 pints of cherry tomatoes so I waited for canned tomatoes to be on sale at my grocery store. And I’m not a fan of pepperoni so I jumped at the chance when mild Italian turkey sausage was also on sale. I removed the casings and browned them in a large sauté pan then added a large can of plum tomatoes and let it simmer for about 20 minutes or so while I roasted the onions, garlic, and 1 pint of fresh grape tomatoes. Once the veggies were ready I combined everything as directed in the recipe and broiled until the cheese was melted. Mmmm! It’s one of those dishes that gets better the more you eat it. Dangerous! And the best part – Miss M loved it!

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Pizza Pasta

ingredients:

1/2 box penne pasta (about 2 cups)
1 pound spicy pepperoni, chopped in 1 inch pieces (I used one pack of mild Italian sausage)
4 pints (or so) Cherry Tomatoes
2 large onions cut in 8
1 head garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons or so dried oregano
4 ounces cream cheese (half a block)
1-2 sprinkles salt and lots of freshly ground pepper
3 cups or so mozzarella cheese, shredded

instructions:

Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).Toss pepperoni, tomatoes, onions, garlic, oregano and olive oil in a large bowl. Turn into a 9- X 13-inch (3.5L) ovenproof casserole or baking dish. After 30 minutes or so stir the works once or twice then keep an eye on things. Bake until the tomatoes soften and the pepperoni and onion lightly brown, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and set to broil.Meanwhile cook your pasta in lots of boiling salted water. Drain it well but do not rinse or you’ll drain away the surface starch that helps the sauce cling to it. When the roast tomato sauce has finished cooking toss it with the pasta and stir in the cream cheese. Top with the mozzarella. Broil until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly, about 5 minutes or so. Your hearty pizza pasta is ready! Call in the gang, serve and share.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

I had it in my head to make pulled pork for about 2 weeks before I finally got my butt and did it. I’m so glad I did! I’ve actually only had it once before it my life, at a friends baby shower and I really liked it. What’s not to like about melt in your mouth meat? I know you can make it on the barbecue but I don’t have one so I decided to find a recipe which uses a slow cooker. There were a few floating around out there so I picked one with the most positive reviews. I understand now why so many people love it. It has the perfect balance of spices. You can’t really distinguish one spice outshining any other – they all meld together to make one yummy flavour. I didn’t use the barbecue sauce at all because my little one isn’t partial to spice yet. She sort of liked this but I think it still had to much punch for her. I loved it! I’d put the leftovers in the freezer and the next time I make my Kansas City Bar-B-Q sauce I’ll reserve some for this. I have a feeling it will be an epic love affair :)

I forgot to take a pic of course, so this one’s from Wiki lol

pulledpork

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Ingredients:

2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (4-1/2- to 5-pound) boneless or bone-in pork shoulder (also known as pork butt), twine or netting removed
2 cups barbecue sauce (optional)
Instructions:

Place the onions and garlic in an even layer in the slow cooker and pour in the stock or broth. Combine the sugar, chili powder, measured salt, cumin, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Pat the pork dry with paper towels. Rub the spice mixture all over the pork and place the meat on top of the onions and garlic. Cover and cook until the pork is fork tender, about 6 to 8 hours on high or 8 to 10 hours on low.

Turn off the slow cooker and remove the pork to a cutting board. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium heatproof bowl. Pour the onion mixture from the slow cooker through the strainer and return the solids to the slow cooker. Set the strained liquid aside.
If the pork has a bone, remove and discard it.

Using 2 forks, shred the meat into bite-sized pieces, discarding any large pieces of fat. Return the shredded meat to the slow cooker, add the barbecue sauce, if using, and mix to combine. If you’re not using barbecue sauce, use a spoon to skim and discard the fat from the surface of the strained cooking liquid, and then add 1/4 cup of the liquid at a time to the slow cooker until the pork is just moistened. Taste and season with salt as needed.

Chickpea and Flatbread Salad

As promised, here is one of my healthier recipes. Although, if you take a look at the nutritional information it’s not exactly low calorie but it is nutritious. I don’t think you actually need that much dressing. I may have used a tablespoon on my serving so that will cut down on calories.  I made a few substitutions as well so I can’t exactly vouch for the original recipe. I didn’t have any tomatoes on hand so I used orange peppers, and I left out the mint because I’m not a fan of putting mint in anything but chocolate or gum. lol I also didn’t have arugula and am not a big fan so I substituted it with baby spinach. This salad is a version of fattoush, a Middle Eastern bread salad. If you can’t find lavash bread, substitute pita bread, but split it before toasting. I didn’t bother splitting and toasting my pita – I just tore it as needed and topped with the salad. For something so simple it really is good. I went back for seconds. Sadly, I forgot to take a pic so here’s what it’s supposed to look like.

 

Flatbread Salad with Tomato, Chickpeas, Feta, and Mint

Serves 4

Ingredients:

5 oz. lavash or pita bread

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 small lemons)
1 medium shallot, minced (about 3 Tbs.)
1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
7 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup packed, finely chopped fresh mint
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
8 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved (about 1-1/2 cups)
6 oz. sugar snap peas, trimmed and quartered on a diagonal (about 1-3/4 cups)
6 oz. feta, crumbled (about 1 heaping cup)
3 oz. baby arugula (3 packed cups)
2 Tbs. minced Peppadew peppers (optional)

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Bake the lavash on the oven rack until lightly browned, 4 to 7 minutes; let cool (it will crisp as it cools).

Meanwhile, whisk the lemon juice, shallot, sugar, a large pinch of salt, and a couple of grinds of pepper in a small bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes, then whisk in the olive oil and mint. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Combine the chickpeas, tomatoes, and snap peas in a large bowl. Toss with the vinaigrette. Coarsely crumble the lavash over the top. Add the feta, arugula, and peppers, if using, and gently toss to combine. Serve immediately.

nutrition information (per serving): Calories (kcal): 600; Fat (g): fat g 38; Fat Calories (kcal): 340; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 10; Protein (g): protein g 23; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 20; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 48; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 4; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 1130; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 40; Fiber (g): fiber g 14

Source: http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/flatbread-salad-tomato-chickpeas-feta-mint.aspx

 

Skinny Sweet-n-Sour Chicken

Happy Independence Day to all my American friends and visitors! If you’re looking for a recovery meal tomorrow this might do the trick ;)

A while back I was in the mood for fast food style Chinese food. I saw this recipe on SkinnyMom and was lured by its promise of skinny deliciousness. It did not disappoint. I used Splenda and regular ketchup instead of the substitutions they suggest. Although the sauce didn’t have the sticky glaze that I envisioned, it still had the sweetness I craved. Overall it was a little labour intensive and took a bit longer than I thought. It took way more than 5 minutes to brown the chicken but next time I might turn up the heat a little more. Overall it was worth it. I served it with my own version of fried rice. (For a version with peas and sprouts click here). Or cauliflower rice is also great if you’re looking for a low-carb, low-fat option.

I forgot to take a pic before we scarfed it down but it looked exactly like this, I swear! :)

Photo: Skinny Mom

Photo: Skinny Mom

Skinny Sweet and Sour Chicken

Prep time: 30 minutes Cook time: 1 hour

Yield: 4 servings Serving size: approx. 14 pieces

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ¾ cup cornstarch
  • 3 egg whites
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup Stevia (or your favorite sweetener)
  • ¼ cup reduced-sugar ketchup
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Cut the chicken breasts into 1-inch pieces.
  4. Place cornstarch in a gallon-sized Ziploc® bag. Put the chicken into the bag and seal, tossing to coat the chicken.
  5. Whisk egg whites in a shallow bowl. Dip the cornstarch-coated chicken pieces in the egg.
  6. Place the coated chicken pieces in a single layer in the hot skillet.
  7. Cook for 1-2 minutes and then flip each piece over to cook on the other side until nicely golden brown, but not cooked all the way through.
  8. Place browned chicken pieces in a baking dish.
  9. Mix the Stevia, ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce and garlic salt together in a medium bowl and pour over the chicken in the baking dish.
  10. Bake for 1 hour, turning the chicken once or twice while cooking to coat evenly with sauce.
  11. Warning: the vinegar smell during the beginning of the baking time is scary. I promise you it does not taste like it smells while cooking.

Nutrition Information:  Per Serving (14 pieces): Calories: 375   Fat: 17g  Carbohydrates: 27g Fiber: 0g  Protein: 26g Sugars: 10g WW Points Plus: 10

(Original recipe adapted from melskitchencafe.com )

 

Mocha Ice Cream Cake

I should apologize for not posting for the last few weeks.  I think I mentioned that I’m an artist, and here in Canada’s National Capital Region the government offices have Aboriginal Awareness week during the week of May 20th, which is followed by Westfest festival on the weekend of June 14th, then National Aboriginal Day on June 21st. I had tables at various government offices and at Westfest selling my artwork. Unfortunately the economy is very slow and I barely made enough to pay for my materials, and certainly not enough to pay for my time. But having events like this keeps me productive, keeps my name out there, and allows me to meet people and make contacts. But it doesn’t leave much time for cooking. I’ve been making old favourites or worse, eating prepacked food and cafeteria and festival food. I’ve gained a couple of pounds along the way. I may be posting some diet foods in the coming weeks.

But THIS isn’t one of them! Yesterday, for Canada Day I made homemade burgers for the first time and they turned out really well. I followed it up with this amazing and super simple ice cream cake. The ganache topping was more like a fudge sauce and was too fluid and sticky so I would suggest cutting down on the milk and cream, maybe by as much as half. Nonetheless, who knew it was so easy to make ice cream at home and without an ice cream maker!? I am already dreaming up various versions of this easy dessert. All you really need is a base of sweetened condensed milk and heavy 35% cream. This recipe is from Chatelaine Magazine but you can find more variations on the Eagle Brand site.

mocha ice cream cake

Mocha Ice Cream Cake

Ingredients

CRUST

  • 1/3 cup 35% cream
  • 2 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 cups chocolate-cookie crumbs

ICE CREAM

  • 2 cups 35% cream
  • 300-mL can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tbsp instant espresso powder, such as Nescafé

FUDGY GANACHE

  • 113 g unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1/3 cup 35% cream
  • 1/2 cup  sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 210-g pkg round chocolate candies, such as Coffee Crisp Bites or Maltesers (optional)

This silky, rich filling is so easy — you don’t even need an ice cream maker!

Instructions

  • FLIP the base of a 9-in. springform pan upside down. Line base with foil and wrap side band with plastic wrap. Assemble pan.
  • STIR 1/3 cup cream with 2 tbsp sweetened condensed milk in a medium bowl. Stir in crumbs until combined but still crumbly. Press mixture onto bottom of prepared pan and midway up sides.
  • COMBINE 2 cups cream with 300-mL can condensed milk and instant espresso in a large bowl. Beat, using an electric mixer on medium-high, until soft peaks form, 5 to 6 min. Mixture should be smooth and fluffy. Scoop mixture into pan and smooth top. Freeze until firm, about 8 hours, preferably overnight.
  • MICROWAVE chocolate with 1/3 cup cream in a microwave-safe bowl on medium, 1 to 2 min. Stir until completely smooth and melted. Stir in 1/2 cup condensed milk until no streaks remain. Pour over frozen cake. Smooth top. Arrange candies 1/4 in. apart around border of cake. Freeze until ganache is just firm, about 15 min. Release cake from pan. Transfer cake to a platter. Slice and serve immediately.

Healthy Peanut Butter Balls

When I was a kid we had a teacher at our school who was Mennonite and you know how mean kids can be. She was so sweet but the preteens/teens thought she was weird because she never cut her hair and wore only skirts or dresses instead of pants. As part of a healthy eating program we were offered crackers, milk, and peanut butter balls at recess time.  Home Economics students learned how to make the peanut butter balls as taught by our Mennonite teacher. Most of us made fun of them and wouldn’t eat them, or ate them and complained but secretly thought they actually weren’t that bad! lol Now that I have a little one I can see the appeal of making peanut butter balls. They have protein, healthy fats, some dairy and a little fiber and sweetness. I added a  handful each of raisins and chocolate chips, just to up the yum factor. I rolled them but flattened the balls a little so they resembled little cookies, perfect for tiny hands. We popped them in the fridge before we went grocery shopping and when we got back they were ready to eat. I think the honey flavour is more  prominent than the peanut butter. My daughter didn’t know what to think of them at first but after the first two bites she decided she liked them. :)

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Healthy Peanut Butter Balls

Ingredients:
1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup nonfat powdered milk
3/4 cup quick-cooking oats

Instructions:
Combine all ingredients in a bowl; mix well. Using your hands, roll the dough into balls about the size of large gumballs. Place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper, and refrigerate until set. Makes about 18 balls.

Source: Lulu The Bake
Read more at http://www.the-girl-who-ate-everything.com/2010/09/healthy-peanut-butter-balls.html#GtbhJ7cIgCyKhxVV.99

Peanut Sesame Noodles – Take 2

I’ve buying a lot of meat in bulk lately because the “family packs” are usually cheaper and I can have meat in the freezer for whenever without having to make a trek to the grocery store. They had chicken breasts on a sale a while back so I roasted the whole works and popped it in the freezer. It’s been there for a while and I didn’t want it to get freezer burnt so I needed to find a quick and easy way to make use of it. Little Miss M is still being a typical 2 year old, not wanting to eat anything but cheerios. She liked the peanut noodles I made a couple of months ago so I was hoping I would have luck with this version. She sniffed it, turned her head away and yelled “NO!”, dashing my dreams of her eating real food for dinner. :( I loved it though! I couldn’t scarf it down fast enough! Dangerous when I’m supposed to be trying to lose weight.

The original recipe is vegetarian but I quickly sauteed the veggies then shredded a cooked chicken breast and added it to pan. Once it was heated all way through I tossed everything together. Oh man it was good! Putting the dressing in the blender is the key to having a luxuriously smooth sauce. Perfectly balanced flavours and amazing mouth feel. Love it!

photo (18)

Peanut Sesame Noodles

ingredients

For peanut dressing
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup warm water
2 tablespoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 medium garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes

For noodle salad
3/4 lb dried linguine fini or spaghetti
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/8-inch-thick strips
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/8-inch-thick strips
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
preparation

Make dressing:
Purée dressing ingredients in a blender until smooth, about 2 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl.

Make salad:
Cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until tender. Drain in a colander, then rinse well under cold water.

Add pasta, scallions, bell peppers, and sesame seeds to dressing, tossing to combine, and serve immediately.

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