Good things to eat

Posts tagged ‘Chicken’

A Warm Lunch at the Office

Anyone who has been following this blog for a while knows that I am NO fan of microwaves and have not (knowingly, although I realize it must happen to me some places!) eaten microwaved food in at least 10 plus years!

But when the weather starts to turn this can pose a problem for a girl who is looking for a little warmth at lunch time at the office and there is no way to heat anything up except the you know what!

So imagine my delight when I saw THIS idea!!

Please forgive me, I do like to give credit where credit is due but I do subscribe to a lot of food blogs and can’t always remember where I see what I see and regrettably I couldn’t find this again when I went back to look for the instructions.  So thank you idea giver.

So let’s call them Homemade Noodle Pots.

We’ve all had them.  Some are better than others.  But even the “organic” “healthy” versions are still pretty much weird dried stuff in a cup.

You know what I’m talking about.  Those instant lunch things that come in a cardboard, or worse, cup.  You peel back the lid, pour boiling water over it, cover it up again, let sit for a bit and voila.  A cup full of some kind of warm, usually desperately salty, noodle type stuff.

And they aren’t even that cheap, especially the higher end ones!

So why not just make your own DIY noodle pots?

You can put just about anything you’d like but best of all, you know exactly what’s in them!

And what’s great, on a Sunday afternoon, you can make up all of your ingredients, pack up your jars and have one for every day of the following week!  Imagine?  A whole week of not having to worry about what to bring for lunch??  Fantastic!

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Here is what you will need:

Heat safe jars, like Mason Jars 500 ml size x days of your week

Flavour base: I tried different combos for each day to change it up a little.

1 to 3 teaspoons of organic or quality soup stock base, miso paste or curry paste

More Flavour:

1 to 3 teaspoons of:  coconut milk, sesame oil, hot sauce or Sriracha, tamari or Bragg sauce etc

 

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Fillers:

Chicken, tofu, frozen vegetables, shredded cabbage, cooked lentils or beans, thinly sliced mushroom, kimchi, hardy greens, boiled egg, or whatever else you might find in the fridge!

Noodles:

Cooked Soba noodles, spaghetti, rice noodles, ramen.   I haven’t tried this yet, but maybe dried couscous?

Toppings:

Green onion, Cilantro, shredded carrot, a slice of lemon?

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Start with the flavour bases on the bottom of the jar, spread them around so they will dissolve evenly.

Then add in your filler items.

Then the noodles and pack it down nicely.

Then finally what ever fresh toppers you might be using. ( if you want these really fresh, perhaps store separately and top the noodles just before eating)

Put the lids on tight and refrigerate!

Each morning, grab one to go!

 

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When it’s time to eat, simply add some boiling water and replace the lid.

Let sit for a few minutes to let everything warm up.  Then maybe give the jar a little shake or a twirl before you open it or give them a good stir with your chopsticks to let the flavours mingle.

 

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You can enjoy it right out of the jar or dump it into an awaiting bowl and eat right away while it is warm.

 

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And there you have a nice warm, weird stuff free, bowl of niceness to get you through your afternoon!

 

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Butter Chicken Pizza

What could be easier than this quick assemble, dreary Sunday afternoon, lunch favorite?

All that’s required is some left over Butter Chicken, restaurant bought, or home made.

  • some Naan bread
  • some melty cheese ( I used smoked cheddar for extra zing)

 

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Place Naan on a baking sheet.

 

 

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Generously cover with the left over butter chicken

 

 

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Sprinkle with cheese

 

Bung into oven.

Simple as THAT!!

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I didn’t have any but you could top the finished product with some chopped fresh cilantro or finely chopped red onion……..or whatever you find that you have around.  Make different ones if you like!

Makes a great lunch or light dinner paired with a side salad……

Why read food blogs anyway?

Let’s face it, there are thousands of blogs out there now, pretty much about anything anyone can come up with.

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I am always seeing ads or getting emails about ways to “get more traffic to your blog” and some of them have some good ideas but at the end of the day, I just like writing them and sharing stuff I like or have tried or an idea I got some where.  So when other people actually read what I have to say, I am very honoured that they have taken the time out of their day to do so.

And what’s better, is if I can give them some little bit of information that they can enjoy, or that sparks an idea for them to use in their lives, then my work is done.

That’s why I have so many blogs that I have signed up for and read on a regular basis.  Because the best part is, it gives you ideas to do your own thing.

I will see recipes and either think about how I might do it differently, or I might actually intend to follow the recipe verbatim, only to find that I am missing one or more ingredient and then have to improvise and then it can inadvertently become a whole new dish.

But especially with daily cooking and eating, which most of us have to spend a lot of time doing, it is hard to come up with new things.  Or worse, even remember stuff that you like to make!

Sometimes I will look back over the archives of my blog and honestly be surprised by dishes I have made but forgot about and so am happy to make again.

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So the other day I was reading a few blogs and got a hankering for something I wanted to make.

First,I got this idea from my blog friend at EMILY BITES.   I didn’t have all the ingredients that she called for so I had to wing it from what I did have.  But that’s part of the fun, putting your own twist on new ideas.

Click HERE for the original recipe.  She called it “Slow Cooker Thai Peanut Chicken”

I still have the same “slow cooker” that I grew up with that my mother gave me one day years ago because they didn’t use it anymore.   Still works just fine and will probably work for years to come, cause it only gets used a few times a year, so why shouldn’t it.

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So into the slow cooker went:

  • 1 diced onion
  • 3 cloves chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 inch chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tbsp agave syrup, maple syrup or brown sugar ( whatever sweetener works for you)
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy or Bragg sauce
  • 2 heaping tbsps of peanut butter ( I use natural, the other ones will make the dish sweeter and saltier)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice ( vegetable stock would work too)

Stir all that up at the bottom of the cooker till it is nice and saucy.

Then add boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  I used four, so if making more than that, just up all of the other ingredients. Basically the rule of thumb is to have enough sauce to cover the chicken, however much it is.

Turn the cooker on high and leave it for a few hours!   Nice!

After a few hours of cooking, poke one of the chicken breasts with a fork, if it falls apart easily, it’s ready!

So then get in there with two forks and pull them all apart till everything is shredded and then stir back into the sauce.  It is actually easier to pull out each breast onto a cutting board and shred it up and then add it back in,, but I was too lazy so I just fought with it still in the cooker!

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But then, what to serve it with?

Well, I saw another blog with an idea for some kind of pancake or patty type thing that I thought might work.   When I went back to see where I had found the idea, I couldn’t find it again, a hazard of reading too many blogs.

So as usual I just “winged it” with what I had.  The one I read had grated zucchini and corn, both things I didn’t happen to have, but no fear, I found other stuff.

In a large mixing bowl, mix:

  • 1 grated carrot or small zucchini
  • half a large red or yellow bell pepper in small cubes
  • 1 cup chopped cooked potato ( left over mash would do too)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smokie paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg

Mix all that together then add:

  • 1 cup milk ( of your choice)
  • 1 cup flour ( also of your choice)

Stir in to the vegetables to make a nice gloopy batter.  You might have to add a little more or less of the milk and flour till you get the right consistency.  It shouldn’t be too runny.

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Then when you are ready, heat a skillet to fairly hot, and add a little oil of your choice then ladle out about a 1/2 cup worth of batter into the pan, until you can get as many as fits.  Cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side.   Repeat.

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Keep the cooked cakes warm in the oven until you are ready to eat them.

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Lay a cake or two on the plate and then top with your pulled spicy chicken. There you have a delicious super easy meal!!

And if the truth be known, I had it again for lunch the next day and it tasted even BETTER after having sat together awhile!  Yum-eee.

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Vegan note:

You could easily substitute the chicken for tofu in that recipe.  Only I would cook only the sauce for a while till it was all cooked down and THEN add cubes of tofu only about a half hour before eating so it doesn’t get all mushed.

And then for the patties, just omit the egg and use a non dairy milk and you are still in business!

Chicken Biryani

For the longest time I have wanted to make Chicken Biryani.

I’ve seen it on menus at Indian restaurants, but always end up ordering the Butter Chicken…..cause that’s the kind of girl I am.

And then in Canada we have a food product line called “President’s Choice” which is associated with a chain of grocery stores and so The President……who’s choice I’m assuming these products are……who seems like a fun enough guy, is always doing these funny commercials for his stuff.  And lately he’s been flogging the President’s Choice frozen Chicken Biryani.   So I’ve REALLY wanted to eat some!

Then I went on-line to just “look up” a recipe!  Easy enough!  Only it seemed that every recipe I seemed to find was a long drawn out ordeal that I just couldn’t be bothered with!!

Then along came my blog friend at Frugal Feeding with a lickedy split recipe for Chicken Biryani that will knock your socks off!

Well, let’s just say, you’ll really like it!

I followed his recipe to the “T”  (except for the Bay leaves, which I never seem to have and find tedious)  which, if you are a regular visitor to this blog, you know I sometime can find sticking to recipes a bit challenging!  But this one was great!

The Chef and I ate this…..till we could eat no more!!

Chicken Biryani

Pulled Chicken Pasta

A few weeks back I gave you a recipe for “Pulled Chicken Tacos“.  

This has turned into one of our favorite things to eat lately.  It is easy and flavourful and great in summer.

But as much as I could eat tacos several times a week, sometimes it is nice to change it up a little.   Or maybe you just don’t have the rest of the fixins to go with the tacos?  Whatever the case, here is something to do with your left over “pulled chicken” if for any strange reason you actually have any!

Pulled Chicken Pasta

Cook up a pot of your favorite spaghetti.

Meanwhile, heat up the left over pulled chicken.  If it is too dry for what ever reason, add some salsa or tomato sauce, crushed tomato or even just a bit of water till it is “sauce” like.

Top your spaghetti with it.

That simple and SO good. 

I have a feeling we will be eating this…….a LOT.

Spicy Chicken Salad with roasted tomato dressing

I will admit that this one is a little more labour intensive as far as salads go, but definitely worth it!

Spicy Chicken Salad with roasted tomato dressing

It has a few components, lettuce, dressing, chicken and “Southwest Salad“.

So, start by cooking up some skinless, boneless chicken breast by the method of your choice.  Or even better, if you should have some leftover cold chicken just begging to be used!

Meanwhile, wash, trim and cut in half a couple of tomatoes.  Put them in a roasting dish skin side down, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and put them in the oven at about 350 for about 1/2 hour or till they look like they would be mushy to the touch.

Roasted tomato

Then while all that is going on, whip up a quick batch of “Southwest Salad which we have made before on the episode calledSouthwest Supper“.

Southwest Salad

Then chop up and wash some nice romaine lettuce as your base.

Once the tomatoes have roasted, let them cool a bit so you can make the dressing.

In a blender or quick chopper of your choice ( even it that means your hand and a fork) chop up:

  • roasted tomato
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • juice of 1-2 limes ( depending on size)
  • 1 tbsp smokie paprika
  • a few shots of Chipolte Tabasco
  • salt & pepper to taste

This dressing is very thick.  If you prefer it less thick,  just add a little water or chicken stock to thin it out.  But notice there is no oil in it, you are getting the fat completely from the avocado ( and that’s a GOOD fat!!)

Now you are ready to assemble.

Cover the bottom of the plate with a nice helping of chopped romaine lettuce.

Then a generous spoonful of  Southwest Salad to one side.

Some cooked chicken to the other side.

Then a good glop of dressing down the middle.

Sprinkle with a little paprika if you like and  there you have it!

Pineapple Chicken

For those of you who have been following along for a while, you’ll know that I don’t usually eat in Asian style restaurants.

Not that I don’t LOVE that food, it’s just that with my shell-fish allergy it is just too high risk to make sure I don’t accidentally eat the wrong thing?

So I often have to rely on trying to recreate my favorite dishes so that I know exactly what is in them.

Pineapple chicken used to be one of my favorite dishes from the Chinese take-out.   I am embarrassed to admit that I used to love that heavily battered stuff in the super sticky unnaturally red sauce.  I even liked the frozen version that you could bake in the oven in the tin foil box!

My how times have changed.

I think you will find this version just a tad healthier.

You will need:

  • skinless, boneless chicken ( breast or thighs)
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 orange or yellow bell pepper cut into triangle chunks
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 can of pineapple chunks in own juice.  ( drain but keep juice for sauce)

Start by dicing the chicken into bite size bits and add to a hot  skillet with a few sloshes of a neutral oil.

Brown on all sides and then add onion, peppers and ginger, keep cooking.

After a few minutes, add the vinegar, soy sauce and chili flakes.   And if you like things sweeter, at this point you could add a tbsp of brown sugar or the sweetener of your choice.

Mix well, then add the pineapple chunks, stir in, turn down the heat and let simmer until everything is cooked through.

Once everything is well heated and chicken is cooked, it is time to make the sauce.

Add to the reserved pineapple juice, 2 tsp of cornstarch and mix it in until it is completely dissolved then add to the chicken and keep stirring until you see that the sauce is thickened up.

I served it with some “orange scented” basmati rice.  Which basically means I used orange juice as half of the cooking liquid and then added some fresh orange zest just before serving.

For greens, I cooked up some brocoli with a bit of bok choy and fresh ginger with a splash of soy sauce and sesame seeds.

There you go.  A healthier version of an old favorite and you know exactly what you put in it!

Pineapple Chicken

Pulled chicken tacos

I seem to have gone taco crazy lately.

Not sure why I haven’t enjoyed them more in the past?  I always tended to be more of an enchilada type girl before, but I am finding the taco experience so much lighter and fresher.

Here are some super easy chicken tacos to try.

Start with a good size heavy skillet and add:

  • 1 onion chopped into small cubes

Saute in a little oil till they are nice and translucent

Then I added four frozen  boneless, skinless chicken breasts ( the frozen part was poor planning on my part).  However boneless chicken of any sort will do just fine.  Then I add just enough water to cover them about half way, then put a lid on  and let them simmer a spell.

If you are using fresh chicken, I would brown on all sides and then follow the rest of the recipe.

Once the (frozen) chicken has thawed in the water and turned white it is time to add the rest of the ingredients:

  • 1/2 jar ( or more) of store bought salsa of your choice
  • equal part of water or stock
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Mix that in evenly and cover again for about 15 minutes at a slight boil, to make sure the chicken is cooked thoroughly.

At this point, test to see if the chicken is done inside by taking two forks and “pulling” the chicken apart.  Resulting in the “pulled chicken” part.

If the chicken comes apart easily, then it is time to add the herbs and spices.   But if you like you can shred up the chicken first, or leave it in the larger pieces and shred it later.  Doesn’t really matter too much.

So then I added and this is just a suggestion, what ever you have, or what ever you like better is fine, but this worked well:

  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp smokie paprika
  • 1 tbsp chili powder ( the kind that is more flavour than hot)
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ( more or less) of chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • salt & pepper to taste

And if you wanted to take it up just a notch,  add a couple of tsp of brown sugar.

Mix that all in well, cover again and let simmer about another 10 minutes until you are ready to serve.  Add a little more liquid if it gets too dry.

Now you are ready for assembly

I prepared a bit of a “taco bar” so we could dress our own.  Some possibilities are:

  • fresh made guacamole
  • sour cream ( I added chopped cilantro and hot sauce)
  • grated cheese
  • salsa
  • chopped tomato
  • chopped cilantro

Start with the tortilla of your choice ( warmed or not) and start piling on the fixins!

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Pulled chicken tacos

Happy times!

Sesame chicken and asparagus pasta

Here is another quick mid-week easy dinner for you!

Here’s what you will need:

  • skinless boneless chicken in bite size bits
  • asparagus cut into 1 inch bits
  • pasta of your choice ( rotini or penne work best for this)

For the sauce:

  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch fresh ginger
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soy or Bragg sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil ( or other neutral oil)
  • 2 tbsp tahini ( sesame paste)
  • 1 tbsp of maple syrup or agave syrup
  • 1 tsp crushed chili ( more if you like)
  • 1/4 cup of water or stock

Then I whizzed it up in the mini hand blender.  If you don’t have a blender make sure you mince the garlic and ginger SUPER fine!

So boil the water for the pasta.

In a large skillet saute the chicken parts in a bit of oil. 

Saute chicken

Cook thoroughly, because this is the only time it is being cooked.   Once the chicken is done add the asparagus and about 1/4 of the sauce, just enough to coat the chicken and asparagus and help steam it a bit.  Put on the lid.

Meanwhile, boil and drain the pasta.

Then toss pasta into pan with chicken and asparagus and the rest of the sauce.  Toss well and let it all heat up nicely.

Serve immediately topped with toasted sesame seeds and some chopped green onion if you have it.

Sesame chicken and asparagus pasta

Thai Noodles

Or Pad Thai to some, although my recipe isn’t completely authentic, so perhaps “Thai Style” noodles?

As I’ve mentioned before in this blog, I am terribly allergic to shell-fish so because of that my former love of Asian style food, especially Thai has been curtailed.

I’ve had to learn to make my own “Asian Style” dishes so that I know EXACTLY what it is in them.

One place that I can really get into trouble is with certain fish sauces.  Often they are made with shrimp which will do me in.  Also certain Thai and Chinese curry powders will have pulverized shrimp shells in them.  So if you have a shell-fish allergy….be very very careful in these types of restaurants.

So a long time ago I learned to make my own Thai Noodles.  The recipe, I believe, was based on that of a legendary Toronto eating institution called the “Bamboo Club” which was a funky West Indian type eatery and night club that served up spicy food and even spicier music!

I’m just doing it from memory so I can’t tell you exactly was in their’s but here is what is in mine:

  • plain chicken breast or tofu  ( or if you can, shrimp) or any combo of these
  • 1 package medium width rice noodles ( I like the brand with the elephant )
  • 2 eggs slightly beaten
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 inch fresh minced ginger
  • Salt & pepper
Sauce
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 soy sauce ( + 2 tbsp of fish sauce IF you can have shell fish)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar ( or sweetener of your choice)
  • 1 tsp chili flakes ( more if you like)
 
Garnish
  • 2-3 green onions thinly sliced on the bias ( for garnish)
  • 1/4 cup crushed peanuts  ( for garnish)
  • handful of chop suey style sprouts ( garnish)

Get everything ready before you start because once you begin, everything will happen fast and it is all about timing!

Start by either boiling a kettle or a pot of water for the noodles.    You can make them either by boiling a pot and when it reaches the boil toss in the noodles and then turn off the heat!  Stir them down until they are soft and cover for a few minutes.

OR place the noodles in a large bowl and then pour the boiled kettle water over them.  Same thing, stir till softened down and then let sit a couple of minutes.

While the water is boiling, mix together all of the ingredients for the sauce.  I find doing it in a 2 cup measuring cup is the easiest.

Chop up the things for your garnish.

Okay, now you are ready.

Cut chicken or tofu into bite size pieces and toss into wok or none stick frying pan with a couple of splashed of oil.    Cook until chicken is well cooked then toss in garlic, ginger, salt & pepper and keep tossing till well coated.

Drain your noodles and toss them in the pan with the chicken, toss them around.   Then pour the sauce all over the noodles with as even distribution as you can, toss well to coat.

Then, in the SAME cup that the sauce just came out of, break in your two eggs and beat slightly.  This picks up the left over sauce.

Then pour the egg evenly all over the noodles and put a lid on the pan for a couple of minutes.

Once the eggs “set” toss the noodles all up again to mix the eggs in to the rest of the noodles.

Serve immediately!

Garnish with green onion, chopped peanut, bean sprouts and a wedge of lemon on the side!

Pad Thai

As good as these are fresh, they make a great snack at room temperature left over from the pan!

Or re-fried up the next day or to be honest, even cold!

Not so buttery Butter Chicken

Imagine my surprise when I found out that there isn’t actually any butter IN Butter Chicken!

But don’t get your hopes up because it still isn’t exactly “skinny friendly”!

Last Sunday, the Chef and I were busy and running around trying to get everything done and both realized that neither of us was particularly keen on being in charge of dinner.

In fact neither of us could even think of what we might like to eat.  I’m sure you’ve had days like that, where nothing really appeals.

I just knew that I wanted something warm and comforting in my belly after a long day of errands and could picture some nice bowl of something or other while watching the Grammys.

Then I got the bright idea that I would like some Indian take out!  No one has to cook and it’s warm and comforting!  But….trying to find something like that on a Sunday afternoon around these parts can be a challenge.  We stopped by a few of the regular suspects but they were closed on Sundays or wouldn’t be open till much later.

Fine.

I guess I would just have to make my own damn butter chicken and like it!

As it turned out…..we LOVED it!  Unfortunately it was probably one of those magical alchemy scenarios that I will never be able to recreate exactly again……but thought I’d write it down for you while it’s still fresh.

So it isn’t “technically” a recipe, but it’s what I did at the time and hopefully you can recreate or make your own version even better!

Start with:

  •  skinless, boneless chicken ( as much as is appropriate)

Cut it into 1 x 1 inch chucks and add to a hot skillet or dutch oven with about 2 tbsp olive oil.  Cook on all sides till you no longer see any pink on it.  Then this is where the need for magic spicing powers comes in.  The only thing I can say is a “sprinkle” of each of these in a way that looks like enough.  Does that help?  No.  Well then, anywhere from 1 tsp to 1 tbsp according to taste, of the following:

  • Ground cumin
  • Ground coriander
  • Paprika
  • Tumeric
  • Garam Masala
  • Chili powder
  • Chili flakes
  • salt

In no particular order.

Keep cooking and tossing till all the chicken bits are well coated and then transfer to a heat safe bowl.

Chicken sautéed in spices

Then in the same pan….DON’T clean it….cause you want all the tasty bits from the bottom……toss in:

  • 1 coarsely chopped red onion

Chunky red onion

Cook for a few minutes till the onion starts to get wilty.  Don’t worry if anything sticks or even seems a bit burny because anything stuck will come off later and add a bunch of flavour.

Once the onions have worked a little then add:

  • 3 -5 cloves of minced garlic ( or whatever your garlic tolerance is)
  • aprox 1 inch fresh ginger peeled and minced

Toss those around and get them real friendly with they onion.

carmelizing onion, garlic and ginger

Then add a tin or jar of diced tomatoes.  I have to admit that I only had half of a can that was left over from something else, but I’d wished I’d had a whole can.

The other thing is I had about a tablespoon of dried oregano in with the tomatoes because I bought too much at the bulk section and it simply wouldn’t fit in the jar and I didn’t want to waste it!!  So the oregano is optional, because it isn’t really a traditional Indian spice, but then again, might have been the thing that made the dish!  Hard to tell.

Mix the tomatoes in well with the onions, garlic and ginger.   This is where you are gonna want to start scraping the tasty bits off the bottom of the pan.   Try to get as much of them up at this point.

Let that simmer up a bit and then……..here it comes…….the “no butter, butter” of the dish……..you will need to add:

  • 1 cup heavy cream ( or more depending on how much you are making)

Stir all the other bits well into it and then bring the whole pot up to a boil then turn it down a little and let it “reduce” as the Chef likes to say.

Reducing the sauce

Once it gets to a nice creamy consistency, turn it down and the add the chicken back in.  Give it a stir and then put the lid on it and let simmer a bit to make sure the chicken is well cooked and all the elements have exchanged phone numbers!

So that’s all fine and dandy but what are you gonna do, just sit there with a big old bowl of butter chicken?  Well, I mean I know I could but…….

Butter chicken

I had some plain old small potatoes in the pantry so I quartered them and boiled them up in some salted water, just to the point of cooked but not so soft that they were ready to mash……if you know what I mean?

While they were boiling, I chopped up some baby spinach and some garlic and added them to a heat safe bowl with some olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper.   Then mixed that stuff up together before adding the boiled potatoes.   This way it would coat the potatoes evenly and with less wear and tear on the potatoes which might be a problem if I added things the other way around.

When the potatoes are done, drain them and toss them with the garlic and spinach mixture then let them sit.

Meanwhile, put on your rice.  Eating Indian food is one of the rare occasions that I actually eat white rice, although I am getting used to the brown basmati rice too.   When cooking the rice, to give it an extra zing, I try to add a few cloves and a couple of pods of cardamom.  But it helps to fish them out again before serving, biting down on either of those can be quite startling.

When your rice is almost ready, heat up a skillet and toss in your potatoes just to warm them up and give them a little colour here and there.

Spinach garlic potatoes

When everything is done, put it all together, and you got yourself one FINE little meal.

Butter chicken with spinach potatoes and rice

 
 

Oldy but goodie

For those of you who have been following my blog for awhile, I know that you will have seen this one before.

But given it is winter in half the world right now, I didn’t think anyone would mind this recipe again.  Try it tonight, it is so easy and so comforting.

Enjoy. 

Sorry I haven’t figured out the “reblog” feature yet so:

Click here to see “My Favorite Soup” recipe.

 

Thai noodle soup

Yam sauce

Well I’m up to my old tricks again!

The three R’s.  Reduce, Recycle, Re-use!

I hate leftovers.  Well, what I mean is I hate eating things again as they were, so I always feel the need to “re-work” them into something else.

If you have been following along here, you might remember I made something I called “Squash Sauce“?  Well this one is pretty much the exact same tecnique.

I took my Spicy Yam soup from the other day, heated it in a sauce pan, and then added a couple of tablespoons of Boursin Cheese!  Cream cheese or goat cheese would work just fine too if that’s all you had.

Spicy yam soup with Boursin cheese

Pour this over some nice grilled chicken and add your favorite side dish ( I just happend to have some left over “Brussels Slaw”) and you have a quick easy, nutritious mid week meal!

Grilled chicken with yam sauce and Brussels slaw

Indian style chicken and red lentils

See now this is a prefect example of how easy it is to be creative in your kitchen and use what you have.

This all started when I was looking at the online flyer from my local grocery store and saw that they have something called “Tandoori red lentil soup” on sale this week their “home meal replacement” department.

I thought to myself ” hmmm…..now that sounds good, bet I could make some of that!”

So I punched that title into our friend Google and a whole bunch of recipes appeared.  I looked at a few and some seemed more complicated than others and so I went through the ingredient lists to see if I could get away with making any of them without having to go to the store!

This is what I came up with.

I started by taking out the trusty dutch oven and over medium heat drizzled in a bit of olive oil.

Then I added:

  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 medium onion finely diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic finely minced
  • about an inch of fresh ginger finely chopped
  • 1 large handful of fresh parsley finely chopped ( cilantro would be MUCH better here but I was without!)
  • about a cup of finely chopped baby spinach  ( it was on it’s last legs in the fridge so in it went!)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

I let those cook a bit and get to know each other.

Then I added :

  • 1/2 cup rinsed red lentils

Stir those in and make sure they are well coated.

Then in a small bowl I combined:

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seed
  • 1 tsp crushed chili flakes
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • zest of two lemons ( keep lemons for juice later)
  • a few grinds of black pepper

Make a hole in the vegetables at the bottom of the dutch oven to expose the cooking surface and pour in the spice mixture.  Stir it around a little to “toast” it which will release the flavours.

Then mix everything in together.

Then add:

  • 1 tin crushed tomatoes ( feel free to use fresh but I didn’t have any)
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • 1 small tin tomato paste

Stir well.

Now you could stop here and have a lovely vegan item, just put on some rice and you are in business.

You could also add a tin of say chick peas or the like if you were so inclined.

But I can only feed the Chef vegan items so many times a week so I also added a couple of chunked up raw chicken breasts.   Cooked would be fine too.

Stir it all up, put on the lid and let’er simmer till the chicken and lentils are good and cooked.   Red lentils pretty much just disintegrate into a nice thick sauce so no need for any thickening agents.

Indian style chicken and red lentils

But I know what you are thinking.   “This doesn’t sound like soup!”

You’re right.   I mean, it COULD be soup if you wanted to add a bunch more liquid and thin it out, but we are eating it on rice for more of a “something I found on the Indian buffet” type item.

Add the juice from the two lemons just before you are ready to go to the plate.  It will balance the flavour and give you a shot of vitamin C to boot!

I of course added a little steamed kale on the side, cause I’m crazy that way!

What we had for dinner

And there you have yourself a hearty, tasty, week night, comfort dish!  

And I didn’t even have to go to the store!!

Creamy chicken and sausage pasta

Sometimes the BEST meals come from “cleaning out your fridge”!

That’s pretty much what this dish was all about.

I still had some left over sausage and peppers from the other night and it seems we always have some left over cooked chicken kickin around so that was the base for how this dish evolved.

I started with a hot deep skillet and then added:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • one large onion ( of your choice) coarsely sliced or chopped
  • 4 -5 gloves fresh chopped garlic

Let those cook up awhile and get to know each other.  Then add:

  • left over sausage and peppers
  • left over cooked chicken ( cubed up)
  • any other interesting left overs  ( I had about a 1/4 of caramelized onions for some reason)

Heat those through so that everything is nice and warm then add:

  • about a cup of heavy cream 

Now if you are a non-dairy type you could add crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce of some sort at this point and go in that direction.  But then we couldn’t very well call it “creamy chicken and sausage pasta” anymore.  So if you want that on your conscience so be it!

Heat until the cream is almost coming to a boil, turn it down a little and let it “reduce” by about half.

Then add in some of your other favorite flavours.  I added:

  • some poultry seasoning
  • some thyme
  • some oregano
  • some smokie paprika

keep stirring and then add some cheese if you wish.  Again, I was just cleaning out the fridge and found a partly used pack of pepper corn Boursin cheese which I added and a reasonable chunk of blue cheese to give it extra zing.

Once that was all melted down and everything was super creamy I added a few handfuls of washed baby spinach, just to give it some extra colour and nutrition count.

Then it was ready.

In goes your favorite cooked pasta, toss it up and there is no time you have a yummy yummy creamy pasta dish!

Top with a little fresh grated parmesan cheese if you have it and away you go.

Creamy pasta with chicken and sausage

Mediterranean style club sandwich

Here’s the recipe for the Mediterranean style club the Chef made for our movie night in the park picnic.

You will need:  amounts will vary depending on how many people you are feeding.  And please feel free to add, subtract or substitute according to taste and availability.  This is just a guideline, but I must warn you, it was delicious!!

  • a large baguette or other crusty bread
  • marinated chicken breast
  • smoked cheddar
  • bacon
  • onion
  • tomato
  • avocado
  • blue cheese/goat cheese/sun-dried tomato/mayo
  • olives

Start by marinading your chicken breasts in a marinade of:

  • chopped fresh garlic
  • chopped fresh basil
  • chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • olive oil

Meanwhile make up your “bacon jam”.  Bacon is always delicious but sometimes it is unmanageable when it is crispy and often falls out of the sandwich!  So if you make it into a nice spreadable “jam” it will solve the problem.   You’ll need:

  • a good size onion, sliced
  • a few strips of bacon

Grill up the bacon until nice and crispy, remove and let cool.   Add the onions to the same pan with and cook until brown in colour and soft and squishy.

Bacon jam

Chop the bacon into fine bits and mix it in with the carmelized onions until you have a nice paste or “jam”.

Once that is cooling, make up your “mayo” by combining some blue cheese, goat cheese, sun-dried tomato, a bit of fresh basil and a little mayo.  Cream these together till you have a nice thick spread.  Now if you don’t happen to have these kicking around like we always seem to have, then straight mayo will work fine.

blue and goat cheese mayo

Then grill off your chicken in the same pan as the bacon and onions were in to add extra flavour.

Marinaded chicken

Then slice up the extras and you are almost ready to assemble.

Sandwich fixins

Slice your baguette or crusty bread into three, length wise and toast in the oven.  If you want to be really decadent, you can brush a little of the left over bacon fat on the bread before toasting.

Grilled baguette

Now it’s time to assemble.

Start, as many good sandwiches begin, with the first layer of bread on the bottom!

First goes the bacon jam.  Spread a nice thin layer on the bottom slices.  Then a layer of fresh sliced tomatoes, then a layer of smoked cheddar, then chicken.

As soon as the chicken is cooled enough to touch, slice up the breasts to go into your sandwich.

Then we are ready for the middle layer of bread, top that with the cheesy mayo concoction. Then another layer of thinly sliced chicken breast, followed by another layer of smoked cheddar and then topped with creamy avocado.

Layer ingredients on bread

Spread another thin layer of the bacon jam on the top slice of bread and add it to the stack.

We secured it with tooth picks with olives on top but when the Chef makes them at the restaurant he uses fresh sprigs of rosemary to hold them down and add extra flavour!

Mediterranean style club sandwich

So if you were super hungry you COULD eat this whole thing yourself  BUT I think it is much too good not to share!

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Brown bag or wax paper?

One thing that I really don’t enjoy is thinking of stuff to take to work for lunch!

Unfortunately, ever since I attended nutrition school, I can’t KNOWINGLY use a microwave.  Now I’m not gotta start preaching, you will have to do your own research and decide for yourself, but I simply can’t do it!

So that really limits what you can take.   I used to work somewhere with a toaster oven and you would be amazed at the things you can actually make in those things!  But where I am now only has a conventional toaster….and of course….that “other thing”.   So basically whatever I take has to be enjoyed at room temperature!

Well today, I just happened to have some left over “Man Salad” ( see last  post) so I got the bright idea that I could shove all of that stuff in a wrap!!  Why not?

I also happened to have some left over chicken flavoured rice in the fridge too which makes a great filler and binder for wrap filling.

Wrap fixens

So I took a wrap, a scoop of chicken rice, and then the left over chicken bits, boiled egg, bacon and even some pecans!  Topped that on to the rice and then to add a little extra zing I added a few shots of my old favorite Chipolte Tabasco!  ( click here to find out about that )

Time to wrap the wrap

Then wrap her all up in wax paper or your favorite sandwich cover and you’ve got yourself a tasty little lunch.

I suppose if you wanted to add a little bit of healthy to it, you could actually add some salad greens to it too…..but I find they take up too much room!   Hahahahhh

The wrapped wrap

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Man salad

The Chef always gets a bit panicky when he hears he’s getting salad for dinner.

But here is a satisfying salad that fill up even the hungrier of fellas.

Start by heating your oven to about 350.  Unless you already happened to have this stuff  cooked and kicking around in the fridge waiting for someone to do something with it!

You will need:

  • Hard boiled eggs ( two per person)
  • cooked and cooled strips of bacon ( at least two strips per person, more if you love it)
  • cooked chicken breasts ( one per person, more if there are hungry people)
  • some creamy strong flavoured cheese like blue or Boursin
  • candied pecans
  • a bunch of lettuce greens of your choice ( today I just used the boxed organic stuff)

So hard boil the eggs, cool and peel them.   Meanwhile, roast the chicken breasts as you might do from time to time.   I just popped them in the oven in a baking dish with a drizzle of olive oil, a few splashes of chicken stock to keep em moist, and then a few quick sprinkles of Montreal steak spice, oregano and smokie paprika.  But what ever you have is fine, even plain will do.

Meanwhile cook up some bacon.  For this kind of thing I like to do it on a tray with parchment paper in the oven…..you can do more pieces quickly and it helps them stay flat.  In fact and this is a Chef trick you can put another tray on top of them so they will stay super flat…..but that’s only when you really need some fancy bacon! 

While all of that is going on, put some pecans in a bowl and then add a good slosh of either maple syrup or agave  ( natural sweetener product) over them and then some chili powder, dried garlic,salt and pepper and stir them up until well coated and then put THEM on a parchment covered tray.  And pop these in the oven when the chicken and bacon come out.   But be sure to turn down the temp to about 250 so they don’t burn.  Keep a close eye on them, they will be done quickly!

Sweet and spicy pecans

May I suggest that you make a bunch of these if you can and keep them in an air tight container.  They are great tossed on all kinds of things or just as a yummy snack!

When the chicken comes out of the oven, cut it into nice chunks and then put it back in the baking pan and toss it around in whatever cooking juice is there to add extra flavour.

When the bacon is cooled enough to touch chop it into half inch bits.

Get your pecans out of the oven.

Meanwhile, wash and spin your greens and put them all into a large bowl.  Large enough that we can dress them in the bowl and then plate them up.

You can use your favorite dressing recipe but on this occasion I used:

  • a shot of maple syrup ( or honey or agave)
  • a spoonful of Dijon mustard
  • a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

All in the proper proportions of salad dressing depending on how much salad you are making!

Alright, I think we are ready to go to the plate.

We start with the greens tossed in dressing covering most of your plate as the “bed”.

Then the chicken bits and eggs and bacon ( all decoratively placed of course!)

Then sprinkle with the pecans and bits of cheese.

Give it all a few grinds of black pepper and a very quick drizzle of olive oil……and there you have it!

Salad fit for a KING!!

"Man" salad

 

 

 

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An old favorite chicken dish

I don’t know why I don’t make this more?

Every once in awhile I remember that I used to make it and then make it again.  This time it was because I saw a jar of artichokes in the cupboard!

I can’t remember where I got this recipe but I remember the first time I made it.  One snowy winter night when I was staying with friends in the country and every Saturday night we would cook up a great dinner, have a few glasses of wine and have a dance party in the living room.

Here is what you’ll need:

  • 1 boneless/skinless chicken breast per person
  • 1/2 to 1 roasted red pepper (depending on size and yield) per person

Do you know how to roast up a pepper quickly?  Easy as pie….well…actually MUCH easier.

Wash the pepper, slice it in half and take out the seeds and any nasty bits.  Place it face down on a baking sheet, using parchment is best but I was out.  Then roast  them in a hot oven 400 to 450 degrees.  Keep an eye on them until they get black spots and look wrinkly.

Then pop them into a bowl that you want to cover with a plate or something.  Or you can put them in a zip lock bag and let them sweat a little.  This will make it easy to remove the skin.

You will also need:

  • 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 6 oz jar of marinated artichoke
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Heat up your favorite big skillet that also has a lid and drizzle in the olive oil.   Cut up the chicken breasts into bite size piece and toss into oil ( gently like, you don’t want to splash hot oil on you) and brown on all sides.  Season with salt & pepper.

When the chicken is nice and browned, add the minced garlic and slices of roast pepper.  Stir for a minute or two and then add the whole contents of the  artichoke jar, liquid included!

When that is well mixed, add the white wine, stir, turn down to like number two on the dial and then cover and let simmer for about 20 minutes to half hour to let all the flavours get to know each other.

On this occasion I just put it on top of some brown rice that I had cooked with left over leek broth as the liquid.  But the first time I made it, I paired it with the side dishes of steamed quinoa and spaghetti squash!

Sunday lunch in the country

When living in Victoria BC, “going to the country” to look at the scenery seems a little silly because everything is so beautiful most days that a ride to the so-called country just seems like over doing it!

But every now and again it is nice to “get out-of-town” and spend the afternoon taking a  drive to look at all the other beautiful landscape.

Kayaking in the Pacific Ocean

Today we headed out of Victoria and  up the West Coast of Vancouver Island, on highway 14 towards Port Renfrew.  This is fairly wild country but still populated enough that you aren’t completely in the wilderness like many other parts of the island.  There are a few Provincial parks along the way that are popular camping, hiking or picnicking locations.

We decided to stop for lunch at a popular resort that is at about the half way mark between Victoria  and Port Renfrew.  A place called Point No Point.

Point No Point

They boast a cute little restaurant with a spectacular view along side cottages of various sizes and amenities all nestled into the side of the hill overlooking the Juan de Fuca Straight.

http://www.pointnopointresort.com/

Restaurant at Point No Point

The Restaurant looks pretty unassuming from the outside but is extremely cozy and inviting inside.  With a sweet little lobby filled with books and games to pass the time or wait for your table.

Lobby at Point No Point

Fireplace at Point No Point

The lobby then leads out the dining room that looks out over the ocean.

Dining room at Point No Point

The view

Once we got over the thrill of the breathtaking view, it was time to order lunch.

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