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Deceptively Delicious Chicken Cannelloni

Steve gets off work earlier than me and he came over the other night be help with garbage, then he challenged himself to make this dish from Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious. He was in a bit of a hurry and didn’t read the direction for cauliflower puree closely enough. He didn’t steam the veg first and ended up having a difficult time pureeing it in the blender. In his defense, its not well laid out in the book. You have to go back and forth between pages for directions on how to steam, and then directions on how to purée, which is a little cumbersome if you haven’t made purées before. Anyway, when I got home I tried microwaving the puree but gave up because I couldn’t really tell if it was doing anything. We went on with the recipe as directed and it turned out pretty well I think. In the first couple of bites I could taste the cauliflower but got used to it. It may have been because it wasn’t cooked first, I’m not sure. Other than that, it’s a pretty basic dish but once Miss M. finally starts eating foods that are mixed together, I will give it a try again. (Sorry about posting such a mess of a dish but we nearly forgot to take a pic.)

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Chicken Cannelloni

8 whole wheat lasagna sheets ( 4×4 or 3×6 inches)

cooking spray

1 lb chicken breasts, cooked and shredded

3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

3/4 cup cauliflower puree

1/4 cup grated parmesan

1 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp salt

2 cups jarred tomato sauce

1 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese

Ahead of time: cut the cauliflower into bite sized pieces and steam for about 10 minutes. Whir in a blender or food processor for about a minute or two, with a teaspoon or two of water, until smooth.

Boil and salt the water for the lasagna sheets. Cook, drain and then place the lasagna in a bowl of cool water.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix the chicken, ricotta, cauliflower puree, parmesan, garlic powder, and salt until the chicken is well coated.

Place 1 lasagna sheet on the cutting board. On the edge closest to you, spread out 1/4 cup of the filling so that it covers 1/3 of the sheet. With your fingertips, roll the lasagna into a tube (lift the edge of the pasta with the filling and roll). Transfer seam-side down to the baking sheet. Pour the sauce around the cannelloni but not on top. Sprinkle with mozzarella and bake, uncovered, 25-30 minutes.

Cauliflower “Popcorn”

I’m quite excited about this new cookbook my Aunt Susan gave me for Christmas – The Family Cooks. It’s got some yummy looking recipes in it, but they’re actually good for you!  I’ve mentioned a few times that my 4 year old is a picky eater so I was pleased to see this book has a whole chapter on how to get kids out of that picky eater stage. It’s going to require a little tough love on my part, and to be completely honest, most of the time I don’t have the patience for it. I’m going to start slowly by inviting her to pick out food at the grocery store, and get her to help out a little in the kitchen. One of the few vegetables she likes is cauliflower so I made this as a side with some ribs mushrooms, onions I made last week. After much begging, and finally bribing her with bubblegum, she put a tiny piece in her mouth and promptly spit it out. 😦 Steve and I really liked it though. I thought 1 1/2 tsp of salt was a bit much so I added only 1 tsp and it was still a touch too salty. Next time I will add 3/4 tsp. And watch it really carefully or it will burn. I’d stay stir it every 7 minutes instead of 10. We took ours out early because we were starving!

If you’re interested, the cookbook is now on sale at Chapters-Indigo! I don’t remember exactly but it’s $10 or $15. (February 2016)

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Roasted Cauliflower Popcorn

Makes 4 servings Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes

YOU’LL NEED:

1 large head cauliflower, cored and florets pulled apart into popcorn-size pieces
3 TBSP olive oil, plus more for the baking sheet
1 1/2 tsp salt

TO MAKE:

1. Preheat the oven to 450ºF with the rack in the middle. Grease a rimmed baking sheet with a thin coat of olive oil.

2. Toss the cauliflower with the olive oil and salt in a large bowl, making sure that every “kernel” is evenly coated. Taste the raw cauliflower. It’s already pretty good isn’t it?

3. Dump the cauliflower onto the baking sheet. Roast, shaking the pan every 10 minutes, until the “kernels” are evenly browned, about 30 minutes. Taste (the cook gets all the crispy golden bits) and season with more salt if you need to.

PLAY WITH IT:

• Before roasting, add a little chopped rosemary or parsley, or toss with grated Parmesan cheese.

• After roasting, for an Asian flair, toss with fish sauce, garlic, mint, and lime juice.

Cauliflower “Rice”

Oh my goodness I’ve eaten so much Easter chocolate in the past few days it should be illegal! I bought a bunch of it on sale at the drugstore with plans to ration it. Ya right. It will be gone by tomorrow. If I could live off Lindor chocolates I would. Well now I have to do some damage control. I’m a fan of http://www.toneitup.com and one of girls in their circle is Sarah Fit: http://www.youtube.com/user/SarahsFabChannel, and that’s where I got the idea for Cauliflower “Rice”. You finely chop or grate cauliflower and substitute that for rice. What a brilliant idea! You can cut a ton of calories and carbs this way. A cup of rice is around 200 calories but cauliflower is only 50 calories per cup! You can steam it, or microwave it for about 3 minutes, or I just stir-fried it for a couple of minutes before I added some other ingredients to make a quick version of fried rice. You get all the delicious flavours without the extra calories and carbs. You can use this for any rice based Asian recipes, Indian recipes, or red beans and rice for example. The options are practically endless.  Love it!

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Healthier Mac and Cheese

My friend Mr. M is laying off the meat for a while, so I wanted to find a vegetarian dish to make last week. I turned to one of my favourite cooking magazines, Fine Cooking. Ellie Krieger is their healthy food expert and she came up with this dish which includes a sneaky ingredient; pureed cauliflower, onions, and garlic. It turned out really well. I added an extra garlic clove, cut down the amount of thyme, and used a larger casserole dish to bake this because there was no way it was going to fit into an 8×8 pan.  I didn’t tell my friend that the dish was light and then asked him if he tasted anything different about it. He didn’t notice anything and was genuinely surprised when I told him about the purée. Here’s an interesting tidbit about including veggie purée in recipes:

In the study, which came from Pennsylvania State University, participants were given three meals a day… Each participant received a standard recipe or a version with either a small or a large amount of vegetable purée hidden in it. The variations all had the same volume, but the more purée they contained, the fewer calories they had. The results were remarkable. Participants who got the most purée in their meals ate about 350 fewer calories and two extra servings of vegetables a day without even realizing it. That kind of calorie difference can add up to a pound of weight loss every 10 days, not to mention the potential health benefits from the extra vegetables. 

Let’s get puréeing people!

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Baked Penne with Cauliflower and Cheese

Serves 6

4 cups 1-1/2-inch cauliflower florets (about 1 lb.; from 1/2 head)
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Fine sea salt or table salt
12 oz. dried penne
2 cups 1% milk
1 tsp. dry mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
2 oz. coarsely grated sharp white Cheddar (about 1/2 cup)
1-1/2 oz. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1-1/2 cups using a rasp grater)

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.
Put the cauliflower, onion, and garlic in a steamer basket set over 1 inch of boiling water in a 6- to 8-quart pot.
Cover and steam until the cauliflower is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the cauliflower, onion, and garlic to a blender.

Fill the pot three-quarters full of salted water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for 3 minutes less than the package timing. Drain and return the pasta to the pot.

While the pasta cooks, add 1 cup of the milk, the dry mustard, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper to the vegetables in the blender and purée until smooth. Transfer to a 3-quart saucepan and stir in the remaining cup of milk and the thyme. Heat over medium-low heat until hot but not boiling, about 3 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix the Cheddar and Parmigiano. Add all but 1/2 cup of the cheese to the sauce and stir until the cheese is melted. Add the sauce to the pasta and stir to combine. Transfer the pasta and sauce to an 8-inch square baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake until heated through and the cheese is beginning to brown, 20 to 30 minutes.
http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/baked-penne-cauliflower-cheese.aspx
nutrition information (per serv ing):
Calories (kcal): 350; Fat (g): 8; Fat Calories (kcal): 7 0; Saturated Fat (g): 4; Protein (g): 1 8; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 2; Carbohy drates (g): 52; Poly unsaturated Fat (g): 1 ; Sodium (mg): 7 90; Cholesterol (mg): 20; Fiber (g): 5;
From Fine Cooking 1 21 , pp. 29, December 1 9, 201 2

Handy tip:

How much pasta to serve?
For main course servings, count on 12 oz to 1 lb (375 to 500 g) for 4 servings. In all our recipes, long pasta is measured by weight and short pasta by cups (mL) wherever possible.

Long pasta
Pasta such as spaghetti is impossible to measure by the cup. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, here’s a way to measure. Wrap a tape measure around a bundle of pasta or use a round cookie cutter to measure the circumference.
• About 2-1/2 inches (6 cm) is 3 oz (90 g), 1 serving.
• About 4-1/2 inches (11 cm) is 8 oz (250 g), 2 to 3 servings.
• About 5-1/4 inches (12.5 cm) is 12 oz (375 g), 4 servings.

Short pasta
For popular shapes such as penne, fusilli, rotini and radiatore, 12 oz (375 g) equals about 4 cups (1 L). The same weight of smaller pasta such as macaroni or tubetti equals 2-3/4 cups (675 mL). For larger and bulkier shapes such as farfalle, you’ll need about 6 cups (1.5 L).

Large pasta
12 to 15 lasagna noodles weigh about 12 oz (375 g).

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