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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.

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Quest for the Best Pizza

My daughter is getting so incredibly picky when it comes to her food. I’m thinking I may have to bite the bullet and try some tough love. But to temper it a little, I’ve make a homemade version of her favourite meal – mini pizzas. Steve and I have been trying out pizza dough recipes all winter but nothing has really wowed us. The one I made last week is from Ricardo Magazine and I really like it! The dough wasn’t too tough to knead and after rising and I could stretch it out quite well. When cooked, it’s kind of crackly on the outside and chewy on the inside. Very satisfying! I doubled this recipe and made a small pizza for myself, a large par-baked dough for later this week, and I still got 7 mini pizza crusts out of it as well. Instead of plain pizza sauce I took a page out of “Deceptively Delicious”s playbook and substituted 1/3 of the sauce with squash and corn baby food! I could not taste and difference at all, and it got the Miss M. stamp of approval as well!

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Pizza for Four

(Makes 4 small, 2 medium, or 1 large pizza)

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups (560 ml ) all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons (20 ml) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 ml) instant dry yeast
1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
1 cup (250 ml) warm water

Directions:

In a large bowl, with a wooden spoon or in a stand mixer using the dough hook, combine flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Add water and stir until it forms a soft ball. Knead dough for about 5 minutes on a floured work surface or in the stand mixer, until smooth.

Form dough into a ball and place back in the cleaned and lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm and humid place for at least one hour (ideally 2 hours), or until dough has doubled in volume.

Preheat oven to 450F degrees. Roll and stretch out dough and place on a pizza pan. Spread with sauce and toppings and bake at 450 for about 10 minutes or until crust has lightly browned and cheese is bubbly.

 

Lentil and Ricotta Meatballs

I’ve been m.i.a. for the last few weeks because we had a death in the family. I was back in Labrador for 2 weeks so I wasn’t really cooking much at that time. Looking on the brighter side, I did have some really yummy food. I collected two new recipes: Mars Bar Squares and Partridge Berry (Lingonberry) Cake. I’ll post those a little later on. In  the meantime, here’s a recipe I tried before I left for my trip. Mr. M was over again so I took the opportunity to try another vegetarian meal. These “meatballs” were surprisingly filling and had a soft, fluffy texture. They cooked after only about 10 minutes so I would recommend turning after 5 minutes and watching them carefully. I  finely minced onion and mushrooms together, browned them, and added it to some tomato sauce to sneak in more veggie power.  I mixed it all together with some pasta shells and I think it turned out quite nice. Even my daughter liked this!

Finely minced mushrooms and onions

Finely minced mushrooms and onions

Veggie and tomato sauce

Veggie and tomato sauce

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You can see the inside of the meatball at the centre of this photo.

Lentil and Ricotta Meatballs

Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen and from The Starved Writer

2 cups of cooked green or brown lentils
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup of ricotta cheese
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 tbsp of finely chopped parsley
1 tsp of salt
2/3 cup of breadcrumbs
1 tsp of black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F

2. In a blender, blend the lentils until they are mush.
3. Put the lentil mash in a large bowl and stir in the eggs, ricotta, parmesan, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Then stir in the breadcrumbs and let it all stand for about half an hour.
4. Now you can roll the lentil and ricotta mash into small balls, brush them with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
5. Bake them in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Then gently turn the lentil balls over halfway through baking and bake for another 10 or 15 minutes.

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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