Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Better Butter Chicken

My Dearest Jess,

This recipe has taken me by surprise. I made it once and realized Jason lent his camera to my brother. It was so good that I made it again so I could share it with you.

I didn't expect much when I first made this. First: because let's face it, Butter Chicken is one of the best things ever. A 'healthy version' of it probably won't improve it, especially when it only takes 25 minutes to make (not including the rice). This however, holds its own. It is from Eat Shrink and Be Merry, and it is delicious. I woke up this morning to a note on the table from Jason's sister (Rachel) saying 'your dinner was so good! Recipe please!' I think that counts as an overwhelming success of a dinner.

The Better Butter Chicken
From Eat Shrink and be Merry by Janet and Greta Poldeski
2 tbsp butter
1 cup chopped onions
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp grated gingerroot
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 can (19oz/540ml) diced tomatoes, undrained (I used fresh ones)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 whole cooked rotisserie chicken, skin removed and meat cut up
1/3 cup light (5%) cream
1/4 cup light sour cream or plain yogurt
1 tbsp minced fresh cilantro (I don't use this)

1. Melt butter in a deep, 10 inch skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Cook slowly, stirring often, until onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Add gingerroot, chili powder, turmeric, and cinnamon. Cook 1 more minute. Add undrained tomatoes, and cinnamon. Cook 1 more minute. Add undrained tomatoes, tomato paste, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Add cut-up chicken, cream, and sour cream. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Serve over hot basmati rice, if desired. (I used brown rice)

I am very excited for tonight. Let me know if there is anything else I can bring!

So Much Love,

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Man Food: Sausage & Bean Witches' Brew

Dearest Sally,

First things first, living in a hotel for a week does not actually sound like a luxury for women like us. I understand any frustration you may be feeling. If that is the case remember to find your happy place and improvise.

As you can guess from my lack of posts that I have been a teeny bit busy lately. I can't believe it's almost November! Where did October go? I too am SUPER excited for Saturday. I'm starting to forget what you look like ;)

The following recipe is form the Autumn LCBO Food & Drink and is my new definition of man food. Have you ever looked at something in the magazine and thought, "THAT will be delicious" and then it turns out to be awesome and nothing like you expected? This lamb, sausage and bean stew is just that. There are no vegetables or hidden healthy foods in here. Next football party be sure to put this on the table. It was a huge hit with the 'man-friend' who was salivating as it was simmering on the stove. Perfect for a cold and rainy day, this will keep you satisfied for hours.

I loved your last two posts. I just bought a slow cooker for my classroom and I have a feeling that it will be getting a lot of use over the next few winter months.

See you very soon!


King Goblin Strong Ale with Lamb, 
Sausage & Bean Witches' Brew
Adapted from LCBO Food & Drink

2 lb lamb shoulder cut into pieces
2 tbsp bacon or duck fat
3 cups onion
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 tbsp. garlic, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
2 dried bay leaves
5 lg. spicy Italian sausages
2 cans white beans

1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Working in batches, add the cubed lamb and cook until well browned, about 12 minutes.

2. Remove lamb from pot and set aside. Add onions to pot, cook for 5 minutes, add tomato paste, garlic and cloves and cook for 1 minute.

3. Place browned lamb and bay leaves in pot, add just enough water to come to the top of the meats, barely covering. Bring to the boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours then add the sausage, beans and just enough water to come to the top of the ingredients, barely covering. Simmer for another hour, making sure that the mixture doesn't become too dry. If needed, add another 1/4 cup or more of water to loosen the mixture.

4. Before serving, make sure the lamb is tender, if not cook another 30 minutes, adding more water if necessary. Once ready to serve, discard bay leaves. Slice the sausages into thin rounds and place back into the pot. Serve with crusty bread.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Our Favourtie Chili

Dearest Jess,

I am so excited for you guys to get here!

I hope your week is going well. I have been sent to Ottawa for the week to take graduation pictures at a high school here. I have been living in a hotel since Tuesday. As nice as that sounds, what you have to realize is: there is no kitchen in my room. There is a teeny, tiny coffee maker; a sink in the bathroom to get water from; and a bar fridge that makes everything frosty. I miss cooking. A lot. A lot. I can't wait to get back home tackle a new recipe.

That being said: here is my (and Jason's) favourite Chili recipe ever. It's healthy, hearty, spicy, and easy. It is from Eat, Shrink, and be Merry by Janet and Greta Podleski. Originally this is supposed to be a veggie dish, but we make it with lean ground turkey and/or chicken.

Beany Baby
From Eat Shrink and be Merry by Janet and Greta Poldeski
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped green bell pepper and chopped celery
2 tsp minced garlic
1 pkg (12oz/340g) frozen Boca Ground Burger (I use 1 pkg lean ground chicken and/or turkey)
1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp each ground cumin and dried oregano
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 can (28oz/796ml) diced tomatoes, undrained (I use fresh tomatoes, diced)
1 can (14oz/398ml) tomato sauce
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional: I don't use it)

1. (**If using real meat, cook it in pot first, and then add veggies**) Heat olive oil in a large, non-stick pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, green epper, celery, and garlic. Cook and tir until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes

2. (**If using frozen Boca Burger, add it now) Add chili powder, cumin, oregano, coriander, red pepper flakes, and cinnamon. Mix well and cook for 1 more minute. Add undrained tomatoes, beans, tomato sauce, broth, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro (if using). Serve hot.

3. Optional: garnish with light sour cream and grated cheese.

I love you so much! I can't wait to hear some updates.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Black Bean Chili

Dear Jess,

What an amazing Thanksgiving weekend last weekend! So much sunshine! Jason and I joined my family at our cottage for Friday night until Sunday afternoon. We got some rest, went on a hike, made lots of Dad's homemade secret recipe pizza, had a huge bon-fire with smores, and Jason even went swimming! We then traveled to Bethany area to have dinner with his mom and family. On Monday we got up early and trekked to Bancroft for lunch/dinner at my Aunt and Uncle's cabin where we enjoyed some four-wheeling, a tractor/hay ride, and family time. So much fresh air, sunshine, playing and eating!

This recipe I got from the latest issue of Food and Drink. I made it a couple weeks ago, and am now just posting it (so busy with autumn things!) It says it's a chili, but Jason and I have decided we will call it a soup. As you know I love cooking in the fall. All the root veggies are in season, and my recipes turn from light and cheerful to warm and comfy.

We made this one last minute, and it is a winner for sure with all of your favourite fall flavours! Even though there is no meat, it was not lacking in substance. I actually used dried beans (like it suggests) for the first time, and it makes such a difference in the flavour! (although it does stink up your house a little...) The sour cream and scallion garnish is a nice touch as well. I then made Raspberry and Dark Chocolate Scones with whole wheat flour for dessert. They taste just a good with whole wheat as they do with plain white!

Black Bean Chili with Fall Root Vegetables
1 cup dried black beans (you can use canned black beans if you want)
Water to cover
3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced, optional
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dry oregano
2 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1 cup parsnips, peeled and diced
2 cups carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup artichokes (we used canned ones)
1 can tomatoes, chopped with juices (we used fresh ones)
4 cups vegetable stock or water
2 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt to taste

1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped red onion

1. Cover beans with water and bring to boil. Let sit 1 hour, drain and return beans to pot. Add fresh water to cover. Bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer and simmer for 45-50 minutes or until tender but not soft (they cook again in the chili).

2. Heat oil in large pot on medium heat and add onion. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeno and cook for 30 seconds then add cumin, oregano, chili powder and paprika and saute for 1 minute.

3. Add parsnips, carrots and artichokes and saute until coated in spices. Add tomatoes and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes or until parsnips are beginning to soften. Add black beans and sweet potatoes and simmer 15-20 minutes longer or until all vegetables are tender and flavours are combined. Stir in parsley and season with salt to taste. Serve with bowls of grated cheese, sour cream and chopped onion for garnish.

** If you are using canned beans, add them after all the root vegetables have been cooked. I added the canned artichokes at the very end, as they did not need to be cooked, just heated.**

I hope your Thanksgiving weekend was enjoyable and full of sunshine and relaxation. Even though we seemed to be driving all over the place, the weather made each moment a relaxing one. I love you and miss you! Can't wait for our next visit.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Quinoa Risotto

Dear Sally,

Your last post gave me goosebumps! Ha ha ok ok I know. LAME! I have to be honest though I am really impressed! I'm also slightly embarrassed by my post as it cannot even attempt to compare. I'm saving my time and energy for Thanksgiving weekend!

I can't believe you went Goose hunting . . . ok maybe I can. Wish I could have been there to watch it! I am becoming en expert at putting together quick meals that I can make a large batch of to last me the week. This Quinoa recipe is from the Autumn Food and Drink magazine and was delicious! I placed a dollop of plain sour cream on top of my risotto when I ate it but it definitely hits the spot when I come home from a long day at school. Pour a glass of white wine and you are good to go!

Looking forward to seeing you as always.


Mushroom Quinoa Risotto
¼ cup dried porcini mushrooms
2 cups vegetable stock or water, heated
½ cup red quinoa, rinsed
½ cup white quinoa, rinsed
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. butter
½ cup chopped onion
4 oz cremini mushrooms, quartered
4 oz shiitake mushrooms, quartered
2 tsp. chopped garlic
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. chopped mint
salt and pepper

1. Soak Porcini mushrooms in vegetable stock for 15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove porcini mushrooms, set aside, and transfer stock to a pot. Chop and reserve soaked porcini.
2. Add extra stock to bring up to 2 cups. Bring stock to a boil. Sprinkle in the quinoa, lower heat and cover pan. Simmer 15 to 17 minutes or until white quinoa is cooked. Drain quinoa, separately reserving the cooking liquid to add later, if necessary.
3. Heat olive oil and butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for 2 minutes or until softened. Add fresh mushrooms and reserved porcini and sauté over medium-high heat for 3 minutes or until mushrooms are browned and juicy. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add balsamic, bring just to a boil and stir in reserved quinoa. If mixture seems a bit dry, add reserved cooking liquid, stirring for 2 minutes or until fully incorporated. Stir in mint and season with salt and pepper to taste.