Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How to Roast a Chicken



I can confidentially say I make a fantastic roast chicken.  It’s that kind of meal I know I can always fall back on.  Perfect for Sunday Dinner, entertaining a couple of guests, or even on a weeknight.  Best part is you can make chicken pot pie with the leftovers (if there are any) and you can also make a stock.

These are the steps to a basic chicken, once you have this mastered add other seasonings.  Next time try stuffing the cavity with thyme or tarragon, and half a lemon... anything that appeals to you.  

Here are the steps:

Preheat oven to 400F.

Remove giblets (if not already removed by butcher) and give the chicken a rinse inside and out.  Pat dry with a paper towel.  Tuck chicken legs in making a hole in the skin and tucking one leg under the other putting one leg through the hole.  My butcher does this already.  You can also tie with kitchen string.  This keeps the tips of the legs from burning.

Place the chicken in a roasting pan with a little water or chicken stock on the bottom.

Brush with olive oil, season well with kosher salt and pepper, and finish with a pad of butter on top.  So here’s the trick, when I say “season well” I mean use a lot of salt, when you think you’ve used enough, add more.  You won’t find me saying that with any other recipes, but with chicken, it gives the skin that amazing flavour and crispiness everybody loves.

Cook until the skin is turning a golden brown colour.  I never use a meat thermometer with roast chicken.  All you have to do is take one of the legs and give it a shake, and when the leg breaks apart easily from the skin it’s done.  Cover loosely with foil and let rest for 5-10 minutes before carving.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Quesadillas for Baby

I've got into the habit of buying frozen organic vegetables for Jane.  It's convenient, less likely to go bad in the fridge, and healthier.  During the winter months in Canada you're getting vegetables that have travelled a long way to get to your grocery store.  So, I've chosen the frozen stuff.   The vegetables are frozen at their peak so they're packed with nutrients.  It also help that they're already cut and washed, so I can easily throw broccoli and kale into almost anything last minute.  Like these quesadillas... 

You can make these so many different ways.  You can add any vegetable or meat, just as long as gooey cheese is holding them together.  This has fast become one of Jane's favourite meals, and because Jane can't eat a whole one on her own, I've been enjoying these too.

Ingredients:

Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Corn
Broccoli, chopped
Kale, chopped 
Whole grain tortillas
Mozzarella or cheddar cheese, shredded (and other cheese is fine too)

For the quesadillas:

Combine beans, corn, and kale (if using frozen, does not need to be thawed) in a bowl.  Heat a large sautee pan over medium-high heat.  Place a wrap in the pan; add some cheese, let melt a little and add some bean mixture.  Top with the rest of the cheese and top with another warp pressing firmly with a spatula. Cook until crisp.  Flip and cook the other side.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Spaghetti Bolognese

I'm bringing back the classics.  I think it's important to master some of the basics.  You want to have a few tried and true dishes you can know you can cook perfectly without a doubt.  That's how I feel about my Bolognese and roast chicken. 


 Ingredients:

2 Tbs of olive oil
2 Tbs of butter
1 Onion, chopped
2 Carrot, chopped
2 Celery, chopped
1 Pound of lean ground beef
1 Tsp of salt
1 Cup of white wine
3/4 Cup of whole milk
1/2 Tsp of nutmeg
1 28oz can of whole tomatoes, with juice

In a heavy large pot heat oil and butter on medium heat, add onion, and cook until translucent. Add the carrot and the celery and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef and break up with a fork.  Cook until the beef is brown throughout. Add the wine, turn up to medium-high heat, and cook until all the wine has evaporated. Add the milk and the nutmeg and turn the heat down to medium, stirring frequently.  Cook until almost all the milk has evaporated.  Add the tomatoes, bring to a boil, and then turn down to simmer.  Cook uncovered for at least 2 hours, or ideally 3.  Stir periodically, and you'll probably want to sneak a taste here and there. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Silicone Food Ties

Thank you Jen for the thoughtful gift!  These are in place of kitchen string. They're really easy to use and wash well too.  I love that they also come in this bag so they don't get lost in that drawer with every other kitchen tool you own.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie

A couple of months ago I was getting my hair done by my friend Sarah who told me she wanted to learn how to make 'chicken pot pie so she could throw a dinner party', and it appealed to me just as much. It's such a cozy winter meal to enjoy gathered around your table.

So when I was visiting my favourite food blog and found a recipe, I immediately decided to give it a try myself.  The sweet potato goes so well with the chicken.  I'm proud to say I made pastry for the very first time in my life and it came out perfectly!  This is coming from the girl who never bakes and who can sometimes even mess up the store-bought stuff.  So don't be afraid to make your own, it really is so much better. 


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Salmon with Tzatziki Sauce

Tzatziki is really hard to spell.  Forget about your spell check picking it up, because it doesn't know either.  Anyway, remember that tzatziki sauce you made with the pork souvlaki?  If you have extra you can use it as a marinade.  The cucumber gives it a nice fresh taste. 

Just add the leftover sauce to a couple salmon fillets and let marinate for 30 minutes.  Cook in the oven at 450F for about 12 minutes, or until it flakes easily in the middle with a fork.  To make it even easier, serve with the leftover rice and potatoes from the night before.  Now that's a quick and easy weeknight meal. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pork Souvlaki with Lemon Greek Potatoes

Instead if getting this at the mall's food court, try making your own at home.  It will be way better for you. 

I got the recipe from Best Recipes Ever website, but the Greek potatoes is my mom's recipe.  I really think my mom nailed it with the right amount of lemony flavour and soft texture.  So easy too!

I served the souvlaki and potatoes with rice, and a simple Greek salad with alfalfa sprouts.  You can also fold the salad into your pita with the pork. 

Ingredients for the souvlaki:

For the pork:

1 1/2 Pounds of pork tenderloin, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Large clove garlic, minced
1 Tsp dried Italian herbs
1/2 Tsp of Kosher salt 
1/4 Tsp freshly ground pepper 
4 Greek-style pocketless pitas


Tzatziki:

1 Cup cucumber, shredded
1/2 Tsp salt 
3/4 Cup Balkan-style plain yogurt
2 Cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
1  Lemon, freshly squeezed

Mix cucumber with salt; let stand for 10 minutes. Squeeze out moisture. In small bowl, mix cucumber, yogurt, garlic, dill and lemon juice.

Meanwhile, trim and cut pork into 1-inch  cubes. In large bowl, whisk together lemon juice, oil, garlic, Italian herbs, salt and pepper; add pork and stir to coat. Marinate for 10 minutes or cover and refrigerate for up to 6 hours.
Thread pork onto metal skewers; brush with any remaining marinade. Place on greased grill over medium-high heat; close lid and grill, turning halfway through, until juices run clear with pork is pierced and just a hint of pink remains inside, about 12 minutes. Remove from skewers.

Ingredients for the potatoes:

6 Large potatoes, peeled, cut into large wedges 
2 Garlic cloves, minced 
1/2 Cup of olive oil 
1 Cup of water
1 Tbs of dried Italian herbs
1 Lemon, freshly squeezed 
Kosher salt, to taste 
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the potatoes:

Preheat the oven to 420F.

Combine all the ingredients into a baking dish large enough to hold the potatoes.  Season the potatoes with salt and pepper.  Give everything a good toss with your hands.  Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked and golden brown. 




Friday, February 3, 2012

Potato Pancakes with Eggs

Remember those potato skins you made?  If you have leftover filling you can make them into pancakes served with a runny egg on top.  Just give them a quick fry on medium-high heat until they're golden brown on the outside.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Tuna Melts

Thursday night is a big TV night at our house.  It's key to have something quick and easy we can have in time for our favourite shows.   We have to feed, bath, and put Jane to bed all before 8:00.  Actually, that timeline isn't any different from any other night, I just take it a little more seriously. 

This is Phil's recipe that changes every time we make it, because it all just depends on what we have in the fridge.  As long as you have cheese and tuna you're good to go.  I think we added alfalfa sprouts to this one.

Speaking of quick and easy, I have a feeling this blog is really going to change once I go back to work in two months.  I'm trying to wrap my head around having dinner ready after picking Jane up from daycare.  Right now I'm usually starting to prepare during her afternoon nap.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Super Bowl Potato Skins

These potato skins taste like restaurant style, but they're not deep fried, so better for you.  Another bonus is you can freeze them and put them straight into the oven.  I love make ahead recipes!  At the end just finish with a dollop (Phil loves that word) of sour cream. 

If you're cooking these from frozen cook for about 40 minutes covered loosely with foil, removing the foil after about 15 minutes.  

Ingredients:

10 Russet potatoes
1 Cup of sour cream
1 1/2 Cups of strong cheddar cheese, grated
4 Green onions, chopped
1 Tsp of kosher salt
1 Tbs of Worcestershire sauce
10 Strips of bacon

For the potatoes:

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Bake the potatoes, pricking them first and rubbing with a little canola oil and a good sprinkling of kosher salt for about an hour and a half, until the skins are crisp and the insides are soft. 

Meanwhile, cook the bacon until crispy and set aside.  

 Let the potatoes cool slightly, cut them in half and scoop out the insides and set aside in a bowl.

Place the skins on a tray until you're ready to fill. Let the potato insides cool in a bowl.  Combine half the cheese, onion, sour cream, salt and pepper, and Worcestershire sauce with the potato.  Spoon the potato mixture into the skins, and lay half on the backing tray so they fit snugly together.  Sprinkle over remaining cheese and crumble the bacon on top.  Cook for about 20-30 minutes until golden in a 400F oven.