Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Moroccan-Spiced Chicken

1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground chicken
1 onion, diced
1 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 dash ground cayenne (or red pepper flakes)
1 bag mature spinach, chopped (or one box frozen, thawed and drained)
½ cup raisins or chopped apricots
2 tbsp mint, chopped fine (or 2 tsp dried)
½ cup water
butter to taste (optional)

In a large skillet, heat oil on medium-high. Cook chicken, onion and garlic, stirring to crumble the meat.

Stir in paprika, cinnamon, and cayenne, and cook for a minute. Add spinach and cook until wilted.

Add remaining ingredients and cook until water is mostly absorbed and raisins are plumped. Season with salt and pepper if desired and finish with a bit of butter.

Serve with plain rice. To make it fancy, layer the meat pilaf-style between rice in a buttered pan and cook on low until the rice forms a browned “crust” around the edges.

Note: Ground lamb can be substituted for the chicken.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Apple-Cherry Oatmeal

I don’t like oatmeal; I find it somewhat bland and thin. But steel-cut oats are in a different category: they have a complex nutty flavour plus some serious chewiness. And they fill you up like no other. In the GTA, steel-cut oats are widely available under the Bob’s Red Mill and PC Blue Menu brands.

This is my favorite oatmeal combo; I make it in bulk and eat it three to four times a week. For my WW friends: one serving is 3 Points excluding syrup, nuts, and milk.

1 slightly heaped cup steel-cut oats (180 g)
3 cups cold water
1 cinnamon stick
pinch salt
½ cup dried cherries*, loosely packed (85 g)
2 golden delicious apples, cored and chopped
½ cup unsweetened applesauce (110 g or one snack cup)
maple or pancake syrup
optional: toasted pecans or walnuts, chopped
milk or cream

Place oats, water, cinnamon, and salt in a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and bring to a boil on high heat, then simmer on low for 20 minutes. Uncover oatmeal and cook for a couple more minutes, until excess water has boiled off and desired consistency is reached. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, place cherries in 1-qt microwave-safe bowl with just enough water to cover. Microwave on high for a couple minutes, until water is absorbed and cherries have softened. Place apples on top and cook on high for 4 to 5 minutes until apples are tender-crisp, stirring halfway through.

Discard cinnamon stick. Stir in cherries, apples, and applesauce. Divide into five servings. Top with syrup and nuts to taste, and serve with milk or cream.

Note: Oatmeal can be frozen in individual serving containers (without milk) and then reheated in the microwave. I actually prefer frozen oatmeal as it further softens the oats and blends the flavours.

*1 cup canned cherries can be substituted for the dried, but I find they don’t carry the same flavour punch. They do not have to be cooked before adding them to the oatmeal.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I tried about half a dozen souvlaki recipes before perfecting this one. The marinade can be made in bulk and frozen in ice cube trays, then stored in a doubled freezer bag; use about 50% more frozen than you would fresh. And yes: there really is no lemon in this recipe.

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp garlic, chopped
1 tbsp fresh oregano, minced (do NOT substitute dried oregano)
¾ tsp ground pepper
½ tsp salt

¾ lb boneless meat, large cube: lamb leg, chicken thigh, pork loin or tenderloin or shoulder
2 yellow peppers, kebab cut
2 zucchinis or summer squash, kebab cut
1 red onion, kebab cut
16 cherry tomatoes

Greek-style pitas
Tzatziki sauce

Combine the marinade ingredients. Marinate meat and vegetables in fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.

Thread onto presoaked skewers and barbecue until done and browned, rotating to cook evenly, 5 to 10 minutes. Alternately, place on a broiler rack and broil 6 inches from heat until done, 6 to 15 minutes. In a pinch, everything can be pan-fried on high heat, but the meat and veg should be kept separate.

Optional: grill pitas to warm and crisp them a bit, about 30 seconds on each side. Pitas can be effectively warmed on the grill, an electric burner on low, over an oven vent, in a dry pan, or under the broiler.

If you want to skip the grilled veggies: increase the meat to 1½ lb.

Serve souvlaki with pitas, tzatziki sauce, plus Greek-style salad and rice or potatoes.

Greek-style Salad

This is a salad recipe without measurements; I put it together by eye. Start with equal-volume portions of lettuce, cucumber, tomato, green pepper and carrot. Add the remainder of ingredients to taste.

iceberg and/or romaine lettuce, bite-size
cucumber, sliced or chunk
tomato, grape or wedges
green pepper, chopped (optional)
carrot, shredded or sliced (optional)
red onion, sliced
kalmata olives
feta cheese, crumbled
RenĂ©e’s Mediterranean Greek vinaigrette, or your favorite Greek salad dressing
* If using Renee’s dressing: add ½ tsp red wine vinegar per serving

Friday, September 11, 2009

Apple-Oatmeal Coffee Cake

I have been astounded by the number of requests I have received for this cake's recipe, served at the Back-to-School Tea on Tuesday morning. I will have to make it again, soon.

Oat Streusel
2 tbsp salted butter, cold
¼ cup AP flour
2 tbsp packed brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ cup oats (quick or rolled)

1¾ cups AP flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup oats (quick or rolled)
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp salt
½ cup salted butter, softened
1 cup buttermilk*
1 large egg
1½ cups Granny Smith apples, chopped (about 2)

Make the streusel: in a medium bowl, briefly blend together the flour, sugar and cinnamon, then cut in the butter until crumbly (size of peas). Stir in oats. Set aside or keep in fridge if your kitchen is warm.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Liberally grease 9x9x2 pan with shortening. (Optional: line bottom and two sides with overhanging parchment strip for easy removal.)

In electric mixer bowl, stir together dry ingredients. Add butter, milk, and egg; beat on low for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl a couple times. Fold in apples.

Spread batter in prepared pan, smoothing top with spoon/spatula. Sprinkle with streusel.

Bake 50 to 55 minutes, until golden brown and toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool in pan before lifting onto wire rack, or serve warm.

* If you do not have buttermilk on hand, substitute 1 tbsp lemon juice mixed with normal milk to equal 1 cup. Don’t worry if it looks lumpy: this is normal.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Almond Joy Pudding

I had nearly forgotten about this until my crazy-cool sister requested it. It's a very filling snack, and for all my WW peeps: it's a filling food when you use fat free milk and sugar-free pudding mix. I am not a huge fan of coconut myself, but still like this pudding.

The title of this post is the sanitized name of this dish. Bevvy and I like to name things after how they look, hence its real name: dog shit pudding. Enjoy!

2 cups milk
1 tsp coconut extract
½ tsp almond extract
1 package chocolate or fudge pudding mix
1 cup quick oats, uncooked

Put everything in a large bowl and whisk until thick, about two minutes. Spoon into four dishes and chill for at least an hour. This pudding is even better the next day.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Homemade Play Dough

This takes a bit of muscle near the end…don’t double the recipe.

3 cups flour (all-purpose or bread)
1½ cups salt
6 tsp cream of tartar (can be found in bulk stores)
3 packages Kool-Aid mix (for color and scent)
3 cups cool water
3 tbsp oil

Combine first four ingredients in a large saucepan. Add water and oil.

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat when dough pulls away from sides and can be pinched without sticking (about 5 minutes).

Turn out dough and knead until smooth.

Store up to a year in airtight container.

Note: if dough becomes sticky while in storage, knead in a bit of extra flour.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Tuscan Chicken Salad with Goat Cheese

I love goat cheese, and so does the kid, which makes this salad an easy way to get the greens in. This tangy salad is an easy quick-fix on a warm day.

These quantities are for one lunch-size serving. Omit the chicken and increase the cheese for two side-servings.

1½ to 2 cups romaine lettuce or romaine-iceberg mix, torn bite-size
3 tbsp sliced roasted red peppers, drained
1 tbsp julienne oil-pack sun dried tomatoes, drained
½ oz (about 1 tbsp) firm goat cheese, crumbled
3 to 4 oz cooked chicken breast, sliced
2 to 3 tbsp Newman’s Own Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing

Gently toss all ingredients together and serve immediately.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Cheddar Scones

Dished up to the ladies at Coffee Morning last month. Cheesy tastiness.

2 cups all purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ cup cold salted butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup grated old (sharp) cheddar
1 egg, beaten well
⅔ cup milk (whole is preferred)

Preheat oven to 425 F. Grease baking sheet, or line with parchment or silpat.

In a large bowl, blend together first four ingredients. Using two knives or a pastry cutter, cut in butter until crumbly (pea-sized). Stir in cheddar. If your kitchen is warm, stick the whole thing in the fridge for a few minutes to cool down.

Beat the egg and stir in the milk. Make a well in the center of the four mixture and pour in the milk. Gently mix together with your fingers until just combined. Turn out onto a lightly floured counter and knead about a dozen times, until dough is slightly elastic. Take care not to over-knead the dough as this is what can kill its tender crumb.

Divide dough into two flat rounds and then score tops into six pie pieces each, or use a muffin scoop to drop large biscuits onto baking sheet. Brush tops with extra milk, if desired.

Bake for 15 minutes until risen and tops are lightly browned. Serve warm.

Make ahead: freeze scones after shaping on baking sheet. Once frozen, cover with plastic. Thaw in fridge overnight before baking. Add a few minutes to your baking time when baking directly from the fridge.