September 7, 2016

Pumpkin Muffins

The front door had barely closed yesterday morning and I already had the oven on to make my home smell like the deliciousness of fall. Who am I kidding? I was boo-hooey that my baby was starting her first day of grade 12 and I would be starting our ‘year of lasts’.  I desperately needed a distraction. Inspired by my 5:45am client, who was up at 4:30am to make muffins for her fam, I decided to follow suit.

I have never professed to be a baker but I do a make an outstanding shortbread and a pretty mean pumpkin muffin. I am however an ugly crier, which made it all the more unfortunate that I had to zip out to the corner store for milk in the midst of it.

• 1 ½ cup all purpose flour
• 1 tsp baking soda
• ½ tsp baking powder
• ¾ tsp salt
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 1 tsp cloves
• 1 cup sugar
• ¼ cup brown sugar (packed)
• 2 eggs
• 1 cup pure pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
• ½ cup low fat milk
• 1/3 cup oil (vegetable, canola or melted coconut)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Combine wet ingredients in another bowl. Combine wet and dry ingredients, mixing just until moistened. Fill non-stick (or paper-lined) muffin tins ¾ full. Bake 20 minutes or until done (test with a tooth pick…or bamboo skewer because I wasn’t about to go back to the corner store again).

This effort was all about comfort food and I was hardly in the mood for pissing around. But you could certainly make this a healthier option by cutting down the sugar, substituting applesauce for of oil and using whole grain flour.

How are you enjoying these first few days of back to reality?

img_6295

tastes like fall

September 29, 2015

Guest Post: Fall Back On Track

Indian River Juice, Fall Back on Track
Pixmac000084386594

Photo: Indian River Juice

July 5, 2015

Crab Cakes

With the exception of grown up grilled cheeses, appie night may be a team Cawthorne all time fav. Everyone gets to pick a dish and we round out the menu with a plate of nachos.  Stuck in the middle of a heat wave (and not complaining in the least bit), you can only barbeque so much, I decided to pull this one out of my back pocket.  It’s been a while since our last appie night  so my selection was one that I had been thinking about for a while, crab cakes. I am going to admit it, I make a mean crab cake, they bring all the boys to the yard.

  • 250g fresh crabmeat (a combo of fresh/canned works too, the fresh stuff ain’t cheap)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper finely diced
  • 2 green onions finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup low fat mayo
  •  juice from 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1/4 cupfresh chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper
  • dash of tobasco
  • 1/4 cup of Panko crumbs

Mix all of the  ingredients together.  Form into equal sized shapes.  Chill in the fridge for 30 mins.

Make a breading station for outside crust.

  • 1 cup of Panko crumbs
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour

Dip the cakes one by one into the flour, then the eggwash, then the Panko crumbs and sear in vegetable oil in hot pan.  Finish in 400 degree oven for approx 7 mins until hot throughout.

Makes 10 large, or 20 one-big-mouth-bite size crab cakes.

IMG_4115

yum

Serve with a creamy garlic aioli or zesty lemon and dill sauce.  If by chance there happen to be a few left over, warm them up for brunch and top with a poached egg and hollandaise.  Delish!

 

April 15, 2015

Chicken, Quinoa and Vegetable Casserole

This a is perfect dish to make ahead and throw in oven for those busy weeknights when you need something hot, hearty and ready when you are…that’s what she said.

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces*
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup white wine*
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed*
  • 1 onion, chopped*
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped*
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 cup skim milk*
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg*
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded cheese, divided (I used a combo of sharp cheddar and parmigiano reggiano)*
  • 1/3 cuplow fat Greek yogurt*

Modified from recipe from Damn Delicious, thanks Kimmy for the share.

Lightly oil an 9×13 baking dish or coat with nonstick spray.

In a large saucepan of 2 cups water, cook quinoa according to package instructions. With 5 minutes of cooking time to go, add broccoli and frozen peas on top and steam until cooked through.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in the skillet. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper, to taste. Add to skillet, cook thoroughly.  Add garlic, onions, mushrooms, saute until cooked and set aside.

Add wine to skillet to de-glaze, bring to boil, reduce heat and stir, cook until thickened and reduced to 1/2 the amount.  Melt butter in the skillet over medium heat. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk and nutmeg, continue whisking until it thickens, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in quinoa, broccoli, chicken, 1 cup cheese and Greek yogurt; season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Spread chicken-quinoa- veggie mixture into the prepared baking dish. Mix remaining cheese with Panko and sprinkle on top of casserole. Let cool, cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Bake in oven covered 375 degrees F for 45 minutes or until warmed thoroughly, remove cover for last 10 minutes to let the topping brown and crisp.

crispy

ready!

 

Thoughts:

Although I did enjoy this recipe the first time around, I did find it a bit on the bland side. I made it again last night with several noted additions and it was great. My goal with most meals is to jam as many veggies as possible down my gang’s throats, I know, I’m so mean.  This recipe really is a free pass to use whatever you have in the fridge and freezer to get those servings in, so therefore I changed the name from broccoli to vegetable casserole.  I also used the lower fat versions of the dairy products and it didn’t lose any of its creamy taste. For added flavor, substitute herbed cream cheese for the Greek yogurt.

The premise of the original recipe was to make it and then pop it in the oven immediately for 15 minutes to finish,  That works well too, but you may need a little longer for the cheese to melt and it to crisp up.

In total, 25 minutes from start to baking dish (not including baking time).  The sauce does go quickly, so having your ingredients prepped ahead of time helps to keep the process calm (the open bottle of wine can also help to keep the process calm), I am all about keeping it calm.

As most of the ingredients are already on hand, this keeps the cost well under $25.00, and there was enough left over for everyone to have leftovers for lunch.  Winner! Winner! Chicken, quinoa and vegetable casserole dinner!

Give it a try, would to hear about any additions that you make.

April 10, 2015

Guest Post: Eating for Energy

Duso’s, Eating for Energy

Dusos

Photo: Duso’s website

March 19, 2015

Slow Cooker Chicken Corn and Vegetable Chowder

The perfect supper to chase away a long winter…

  • 5 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 c frozen whole kernel corn
  • 3 large  potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 leek, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 packages (8oz)  reduced fat cream cheese, cut into cubes*
  • 2 c skim milk*
  • 2 c no salt added chicken broth*
  • 1 c white wine*
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 c heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cooked crumbled bacon (optional for garnish)
  • 1/2 c of fresh parsley, chopped (optional for garnish)

Modified from original recipe, Cooking with Sugar: Slow Cooker Chicken Corn Chowder

Add everything to the slow cooker except for the heavy cream, cornstarch, bacon and parsley. Cover; cook on high heat setting for about 4 hours high or for 8 hours on low.  15 minutes before ready to serve, whisk the heavy cream and the cornstarch in a bowl until smooth. Stir into slow cooker and cover and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Serve and sprinkle with fresh parsley and crispy bacon.

Soup's on!

Soup’s on!

 

Thoughts:

I had been looking for a good chicken chowder recipe for quite some time and was drawn to this one because it contained so many veggies, hence I changed the name to Chicken Corn and Vegetable Chowder, because I can.  Original prep time for this recipe called for 20 minutes, it was more like 30, I like my fingers. I did cook the chicken while I prepped the veggies (I am a bit of a freak about raw meat).

I tried to low cal this as much as possible by using skim milk and reduced fat cream cheese as well as no salt added chicken broth, and it did not lose any of its flavor.  I substituted white wine for sherry (I already had a bottle open in the fridge, what are the chances) and opted not to use a can of chillies which was just preference.

The recipe called for 1lb of cooked, crumbled bacon which is a lot, even if you like bacon (Lysa M – there is NOTHING accidental about this bacon).  How do I know?  I used the full pound and will not judge you if you choose to do the same.

You will need a largish crock pot for this one.  Sugar said 12 servings,  between dinner, second helpings, and lunch for everyone the next day, I still had left overs.  Sugar does not lie.

Cost for this recipe was slightly over $30.00, including the pound of bacon, and considering the volume of chowder it made, I am very happy with the cost per serving.  It’s a keeper.

Give it a try and let me know what you think and what you name it. 😉

 

 

 

February 26, 2015

Kung Pao Chicken Tacos

This wasn’t my first kick at the can with this recipe.   I made it once before and it was a request for our one-day-late Chinese New Year supper.

5 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces *
3 tbsp lower-sodium soy sauce, divided
1/4 c plus 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch, divided
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp canola oil, divided
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp dark sesame oil
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste)
large garlic clove, minced
3 tbsp coarsely chopped dry-roasted peanuts
8 (6-inch) whole wheat tortillas*
1/2 c sliced green onions*
2 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced*
3/4 c diagonally sliced celery (about 2 stalks) *optional
4 lime wedges

Modified from Original Cooking Light recipe

Marinate chicken in 1tbsp of soy sauce at room temperature in a zip-top plastic bag f for 30 mins. Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade. Place 1/4 c cornstarch in a shallow dish. Sprinkle the chicken evenly with salt. Add chicken to cornstarch in dish, and toss chicken to thoroughly coat. Shake off excess cornstarch.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp canola oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add half of coated chicken; sauté for 6 mins or until done, turning to brown. Remove chicken from pan using a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels. Repeat the procedure with remaining 1 tbsp canola oil and coated chicken.

Combine remaining 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch, remaining 2 tbsp soy sauce, honey, dark sesame oil, rice vinegar and sambal oelek in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Microwave at HIGH for 1 1/2 mins or until slightly thick, stirring twice. Stir in garlic.

Add all chicken back to skillet, add red peppers and sauté 2 mins, add green onions and sauté 1 min. Add soy sauce mixture,  peanuts, and celery; toss to coat.

Toast tortillas under broiler turning frequently. Place 2 tortillas on each of 4 plates; divide chicken mixture evenly among tortillas. Serve and enjoy with lime wedges.

Thoughts:
The original recipe called for the tacos to be topped with uncooked red peppers and green onions (and celery, which I did not use), I chose to cook them slightly,  just a matter of preference.

From counter to plate, just over 35 mins, and with the exception of the staples and a bottle of Kim Crawford (which pairs fantastically), the entire meal cost under $25.00.

I had a great deal of difficulty photographing the tacos without them looking obscene... so I resorted to photographing only one.

I had a great deal of difficulty photographing two tacos without them looking obscene… what you see is the PG version.

This one’s a keeper for sure! Let me know how it goes.

February 19, 2015

Recipe: Pasta with Shrimp and Spinach

I am a sucker for quality 30-minute meal. Tried this last week, true to time and it was delish!

1 pkge whole wheat spaghettini *
1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined large shrimp
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1/2 cup fat-free/less-sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice *
6 cups coarsely chopped spinach
2 tablespoons capers (optional)

Modified from original recipe Angel Hair Pasta with Shrimp and Spinach

Cook pasta according to package directions, Drain.

While pasta cooks, sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots; sauté 30 seconds. Add shrimp; sauté 3 minutes. Remove shrimp mixture from pan. Add chicken broth and lemon juice to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add cooked pasta, shrimp, spinach (and capers), and heat 1 minute or until spinach wilts, stirring frequently.  Serve and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Adding cherry tomatoes during the final minutes of cooking would have been a nice addition to this recipe.  I found that 1 1/2lbs of shrimp was a lot for this recipe, especially with the price of fresh shrimp right now.  But even with the suggested amount of seafood, of course with the exception of the staples, it stayed under $25, and served dinner for 3 with enough left overs for everyone to take for lunch the following day.

mmmmmm

mmmmm

Let me know what you think.

 

 

 

February 6, 2015

Recipe: Slow Cooker Korean Beef

One of my gf’s was recently raving about a Korean Beef dish that brought her entire family to the dinner table, which is fairly impressive, she has one of the largest broods that I know.  Whether or not it would bring my gang to the table was besides the point, I couldn’t get the thought of it out of my head.  I did a little digging around and this is what I came up with:

3lbs. chuck roast
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 onion, sliced *
1 red pepper, sliced*
10 cloves garlic
2 tbsp grated ginger
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp chili paste*
1 tsp red pepper flakes

*modified from Baked Bree’s original recipe

Combine all ingredients except roast in a slow cooker, add roast and baste.  Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours (I did peek and re-baste several times while it cooked).  Shred roast and crush garlic cloves with a fork 30 mins prior to serving.

The original recipe was for Korean Beef Tacos.  I found it a little too saucy for a hand food and did not want to waste the delicious gravy, so instead served it over jasmine rice and sprinkled it with sesame seeds.

Delish

Delish

It’s a winner!  Brought my gang to the table and back again for seconds, unfortunately leaving me nothing for lunch the next day.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

 

January 29, 2015

What’s For Dinner?

When I announced that I was going back to school and would be immersed in the land of nutritional studies for the next couple of years, my daughter’s first response was “oh great, now we won’t be able to eat anything”.   Now, granted in my line of work I do have to eat well to maintain energy and fit into my workout pants without my ass glowing like a disco ball (oh yes ladies, if your lulu’s are too tight, they shine), but I do enjoy food and life.  So how do you create that healthy lifestyle balance without depriving your gang, and yourself, of butter, bacon and all that tastes good?

Contrary to the belief of many, there really is more in my fridge than carrot sticks, spinach and wine.   I am an 80/20 kinda girl, I do walk a pretty good walk, but I believe that life is about moderation, and even moderation in moderation sometimes. And a healthy lifestyle has to be that, a lifestyle. If you take away all of your dirty little pantry secrets and are forced to live a life of restricted calories, burpees and green tea could you honestly call it a healthy lifestyle? Absolutely not, so why waste the time setting yourself up for failure.

With all of my course readings I began to realize that although our diet was fairly healthy, it wasn’t as varied as it could have been.  Life happens and it gets busy, mealtimes become almost a hassle and you fall into what is easiest, repetition.  So in efforts to salvage our humdrum mealtime and add some variance I took on the challenge to cook something new every week, be it a side, main or snack.  Along with the epic fails, there have been some serious winners and I have settled nicely into my new kitchen.

So in addition to food stuffs, you can look forward to my weeklyish shares of what’s been cooking in my kitchen; no fancy pics, there are no food fluffers here and I like to eat my food while it is hot.

And in response to my little darling, quite the contrary, you get to eat everything!

 

An oldie but a goodie.  Copyright 1963

An oldie but a goodie. Copyright 1963