Monday, December 5, 2011

Spicy Sprouts, Havarti & Ham Sandwich

Mr Reed & I love sandwiches - but sometimes the same old get so boring we find ourselves dreading the lunch hour menu. Recently I have discovered that I am not as picky of an eater anymore & have ventured into new sandwich toppings that have now turned my boring meat on a bun pallette into a salivating desire to concoct a new version. A little tidbit I find to making the lunch bun that much more appetizing is to find a local bakery close by & every other night/day run in & pick up enough fresh buns for your family to cover 2 days. This simple fresh statement will make all the difference. This is the sandwich I made for Mr Reed & I today for lunch - in an individual sandwich breakdown.

1 bun
5 slices shaved lunch meat
1 tsp light mayo
1 large leaf of lettuce
3 slices jalapeno havarti cheese
1/4 cup spicy alfalfa sprouts
   pickles sliced in circles
   red onion slices
   mustard

1) Cut bun in half & spoon mayo mixture on the bottom

2) Place meat slices & then cheese & pickles

3) Add lettuce & then sprouts

4) Top with mustard, cover with top of bun & cut in half & serve

...how do I store fresh herbs to use later on?

 
 If you're anything like me you enjoy the valued addtional of using fresh herbs - but can never seem to use them up before they expire. Below is a trick that I use & works great! I purchased the trays from Dollarama & the style of them works perfect. Try this out with all your favourite herbs.

Herbs
Rectangle ice cube trays

1) Place sprigs evenly amongst ice cube trays

2) Cover with water & freeze for a few hours

 3) Once frozen remove from tray & freeze in ziploc bag

4) TO USE: Simply run lukewarm water over the ice to thaw then use as directed in your recipe

Friday, December 2, 2011

Potato Bacon Torte

The way to my husbands heart is bacon. If I could incorporate bacon into everything I made he would be a very happy boy. This year we celebrated American Thanksgiving at our home. We had several of Mr Reeds extended family come in to share the day together. I prepped this crust the evening before & served it for breakfast for Mr Reeds mom; himself & I then we got to work on prepping the delicious turkey dinner! This recipe is one that I pulled out of Food Network's December issue - & it was well worth it as this will be my new crust recipe from now on.

FOR THE CRUST
food pprocessor
2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup filled with 3 ice cubes & water

FOR THE FILLING
4 strips bacon (I opted for 1 cup precooked bacon pieces)
1 cup heavy cream
3 sprigs thyme, plus leaves for topping
3 medium baking potatoes, peeled
   salt & pepper
1/4 cup grated cheese
1 large egg yolk

1) Make the crust: Pulse the butter, flour & salt in the food processor until the mixture looks like a slightly wet sand
2) Add 8 to 10 tbsps ice water, 1 tbsp at a time, pulsing after each addition, until the dough just begins to clump together

3) Divide the dough between 2 resealable plastic bags & pat into disks

4) Refrigerate at least 30 minutes (or overnight)

5) Roll out 1 disk of dough between 2 floured wax sheets of paper into a 10 inch round

6) Fit dough into a 9 inch pie plate & refrigerate

7) Preheat oven to 375F

8) Bring the cream & thyme sprigs to a bare simmer in a saucepan over low heat

9) Remove from heat; let steep 5 minutes. Remove thyme

10) Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise.

11) Remove the pie plate from the fridge & add a layer of potato slices over the dough in a circular pattern, overlapping

12) Season with salt & pepper & sprinkle with about 1/4 of the bacon

13) Continue layering until the pan is nearly full

14) Top evenly with cheese

15) gently pour the cream over the torte; allowing it to seep down between the potato slices

16) Roll out the remaining disk of dough into a 10 inch round floured surface

17) Lay the dough over the filling; press the edges of the 2 crusts together to crimp them closed

18) Beat the egg yolk with a splash of water & brush on the top crust

19) With a sharp knife, cut a few slits in the center of the crust to let the steam escape

20) Put the torte on on a baking sheet & bake until the crust is browned; 50 minutes to 1 hour (cover the edges with foil if they brown too quickly)

21) Let rest at least 15 minutes before cutting into wedges; top with thyme leaves

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chicken Casear Salad

This is a summertime favourite by far. Pairing up my Breaded Chicken Breast recipe with this simple salad leaves a fresh & full feeling over the attendees at the kitchen table.

Romaine lettuce or other greens
Red Onion, sliced thinly
Croutons
Parmesan Cheese
Bacon bits
Marzetti Caesar Dressing


1) Wash lettuce leaves & slice red onion

2) Lay lettuce on plate, add red onion, croutons, parmesan cheese & bacon bits

3) Toss in dressing & add chicken breast


Hamburger Subs

...how do I make a quick "burger like" meal that's not greasy?

How this recipe was concocted is really unknown to me other than one night my mom placed this in front of us & it instantly became the favourite Friday night meal for my dad & I. It's messy & devine all at the same time. It's ridiculously simple & can be modified by using your favourite toppings! You may opt to use ground turkey or chicken instead.




1 cup cooked ground beef
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
Salt & pepper
1 tsp olive oil

2 Submarine buns
1/2 cup grated cheese
4 tbsp mayo
1 plum tomato
Lettuce, shredded

1) Preheat oven to broil & 350F

2) Brown garlic, onions, salt & peper, & ground beef in olive oil

3) Place submarine buns cut half open on baking sheet & put in preheated oven & lightly toast

4) Remove buns from oven & put mayo on one side of each bun

5) Spread ground beef over one side of bun

6) Add cheese & tomato (do not fold shut)

7) Return baking sheet to oven until cheese is melted

8) Remove from oven & add lettuce

9) Fold shut; cut in half & serve

...how do I dice an onion without crying?



Step 1 - Cut the onion in half down the middle
of the 2 ends

A couple months ago while visiting my middle sister; my brother in law (bumblingbakers hubby) demonstrated for us a lesson that I will never forget - how to dice an onion without crying!
Its really quite simple, far easier to handle & after all basically just common sense - & my tear ducts have been thanking me ever since!
 


Step 2 - Cut the half in half again avoiding the
end directly
 

Step 3 - Remove the skin then cut slits
lengthwise without going all the way through to
the roots 
 

Step 4 - Dice crosswise
 

Step 5 - Continue dicing until the end


Friday, November 11, 2011

Baked Breaded Chicken


...how do I make a low calorie & versatile breaded chicken breast?

Breaded chicken is my weakness; & its definitely not a good weakness to have. In the summer Mr Reed & I eat salad at every meal & this addition to our greens was welcomed with lip smacking success. I have since done so many versions of it that I will post each separately here - but they all look the same. You can use it with so many different meals & will suddenly find yourself dreaming of ways to fit it in guiltlessly as the original (which I have adapted) comes from my Weight Watchers cookbook.

Orange Baked Chicken
2 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp mustard
1 tbsp Keens hot mustard
3/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1 tbsp orange zest
3 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 tsp ground pepper
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1) Preheat oven to to 350F

2) Spray a non stick baking sheet with non stick olive oil spray

3) In a small bowl combine orange juice, mustard & salt

4) In another bowl combine bread crumbs, orange zest, onion & pepper

5) Dip the chicken breast in the mustard mixture

6) Transfer chicken to crumb mixture & sprinkle mixture on top of chicken

7) Press crumbs firmly, flip & repeat to coat both sides

8) Place on baking sheet

9) Bake 15 minutes, turn over making sure you re-spray under the chicken again & bake until cooked through about 15-20 minutes longer

Lemon Baked Chicken

Lemon Rind
Lemon Juice

1) Substitute lemon rind & juice for the orange zest & juice above & repeat steps 1-9

Herbed Baked Chicken

Basil
Sage
Egg white
*Omitting mustard, orange/lemon rind & juice


1) Preheat oven to to 350F

2) Spray a non stick baking sheet with non stick olive oil spray

3) In a small bowl combine egg white & salt

4) In another bowl combine bread crumbs, basil, sage, onion & pepper

5) Dip the chicken breast in the egg white mixture

6) Transfer chicken to crumb mixture & sprinkle mixture on top of chicken

7) Press crumbs firmly, flip & repeat to coat both sides

8) Place on baking sheet

9) Bake 15 minutes, turn over making sure you re-spray under the chicken again & bake until cooked through about 15-20 minutes longer

...what can I use this chicken breast in?
Cut into strips & enjoy with:
-Chicken caesar salad
-Buffalo chicken sandwich
 

...how do I wash lettuce without it bruising?

 I grew up in a very small town; raised on a pig farm & the words "salad spinner" were most definitely never mentioned. Last summer I brought a casear salad to a party & was so embarrassed to serve it because my pre-washed leaves were sagging so badly it ended up looking like a pile of green mush rather than crisp leaves. So I spent the better part of this time mastering the lettuce washing & here are my results.

Salad spinner
Head of lettuce or greens

1) Break off the "stem"

2) For green leaf or romaine I tear away the whitest part of the "ribs"
3) Fill the clear basin with cool water

Keep strainer part seperate while filling as running water over the greens is a major factor in the bruising of the leaves

4) Tear lettuce into 2x2 inch pieces & place in the strainer
5) Place the strainer & leaves in the clear basin filled with water & gently swish leaves around

6) The dirt will settle on the bottom. Remove strainer & dump out water

7) Place the strainer back in the empty basin & cover
8) Spin the lettuce & then dump out the excess water

9) Repeat if needed just make sure the basin is filled with water before your place the strainer & leaves in it (don't run water directly over leaves)

Greens & Fruit Topped Salad

...how do I make a quick salad for myself that's bursting with flavour?

Well try my simple salad below that tastes even better with fresh in season fruit

1 cup lettuce
5 mandarin orange slices
5 raspberries
1 tbsp feta cheese
1 tbsp almonds

1) Add lettuce to a bowl

2) Top with mandarin oranges, raspberries, feta & almonds

3) Top with your favourite salad dressing (I suggest a raspberry vinaigrette or try my homemade Oil & Vinegar)



...how do I wash lettuce without it bruising?

Chicken & Gnocchi Soup

...how do I change up my typical soup ingredients?

Mr Reed loves soups. I am not sure what it is about them but he is always encouraging me to try new recipes. The problem with soups (for me) is I tend to gravitate to the same ingredients - so trying to keep it light I found this light broth version (rather than creamy) on CanadianLiving.com & I decided this will be on the meal plan for lunch this week; adapting the recipe to become a slow cooker version. (Please see CanadianLiving.com for the original) For those of you who aren't familiar with
gnocchi - don't be intimidated. It's essentially a small
dumpling/noodle texture & will be sure to please.
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced in cubes
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 pinch salt
1 pinch ground pepper
1 bay leaf
1 pkg (900 ml) sodium reduced chicken broth
1 pkg (1 lb/500 g) fresh gnocchi


1) Add chicken, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, bay leaf & chicken broth to slow cooker

2) Turn on high for 4 hours or low for 8


3) Once ingredients in slow cooker are done move on the step 4

4) Add 1 1/2 cups of the chicken broth from slow cooker (including bay leaf), 1 1/2 cups water & gnocchi to pot & bring to a boil

5) Reduce heat to medium; uncovered, until gnocchi float to top & are firm to the touch  about 5 minutes

6) Discard bay leaf & return juices & gnocchi to crock pot & serve

Tell me, Mrs Reed...what's the verdict?

The verdict can be summed up by my husbands response, "it's kind of a big heavy noodle, eh?" Gnocchi is gross! It was about as appetizing as the results of my final pic of the soup. The broth was really good however; even though I forgot to put carrots in. I scooped out the gnocchi & will put in a different noodle for tomorrows lunch. Or I may just scratch the whole thing all together & just freeze the chicken & broth for something else. Maybe if you like gnocchi you will like this - but us - never again.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Chicken Quesadillas

...how do I incorporate healthy grains at lunch that don't taste like cardboard?

My husband has been recently diagnosed with high cholesterol - however some changes in his diet should be all that is needed. Because of this I have been searching for great tasting ways to incorporate ingredients that lower cholesterol & avoid the "bad stuff" as much as we can. Because of this I have fallen in love with Kontos multi grain flatbreads.

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cups chicken broth
Pepper
Sour Cream
Salsa
2 Kontos Flatbreads
Cheese
Green Onions
Taco Seasoning (Bought or homemade)

1) Place 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts  in crockpot & cover with 2 cups chicken broth or enough to cover half the chicken

2) Grind black pepper over chicken

3) Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4.

4) Retain broth in container & freeze for soups etc

Homemade Taco Seasoning

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

5) Add homemade taco seasoning, chicken & 2 tsps of broth to food processor & pulse until well mixed

6) Add sour cream to 1 flatbread & salsa to another

7) Add chicken mixture, cheese & green onions to 1 flatbread; cover with other

8) Place on baking sheet at 375F for 15 mins or until flatbreads are crsipy & cheese is melted

9) Cut in 4 wedges & serve with diced jalapenos, sour cream & salsa

Homemade Taco Seasoning

...how do I make my own taco seasoning?

Forget to pick up taco seasoning? Make your own with these common ingredients you have on hand courtesy of allrecipes.com!

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

1) Mix together with 2 tsp broth or water & use with ground beef or chicken

Use with:
Chicken Quesadillas

Roasted Tomato Sauce

...how do I make my own red pasta sauce from scratch?

A couple of months ago my oldest sister; bumblingbaker told me that she had made homemade tomato sauce. She described how little ingredients there were & how simple & fragrant it could be. So while flipping through my Weight Watchers Cookbook I discovered this Roasted Red Sauce; & the calories were so low I couldn't resist! The moment I opened my oven just 50 minutes later this intense roasted smell came over my entire kitchen. I did alter the recipe by adding tomato paste the second time I made it to give it a more rich red colour. I have tried a few different variations as well which you can find at the bottom of this page & give a completely different taste - go ahead - find your favourite & let me know if there's any other vinegars you like too!

12 plum tomatoes, cut in fourths lengthwise
1 large vidalia onion, halved lengthwise then sliced crosswise
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 tbsp fresh basil minced
1 tbsp fresh sage minced
1/2 cup tomato paste

1) Preheat oven to 375F
2) Spray 2 large non stick pans with olive oil non stick spray

3) Arrange the tomatoes & onion in single layers on the pans

4) Sprinkle with the vinegar, garlic, salt & pepper

5) Sprinkle basil & sage

6) Lightly spray with olive oil non stick spray

7) Roast in the oven until tomatoes & onion are lightly browned & have an intense, sweet aroma, 50-55 minutes.

8) Transfer the tomatoes & onion to a food processor

9) Add tomato paste & pulse until still a bit chunky

1/2 cup = 39 calories

Other versions:
Try using different vinegars instead of the balsamic like apple cider or red wine vinegar or add come red chili pepper flakes for a kick


Tomato Macaroni Soup

...how do I make a really quick soup?

My mom started making this classic recipe for us over 10 years ago & we instantly loved it; well my sisters & I did - my dad was impartial. So on cold days when my dad was unable to make it home for dinner my mom would cook up a big pot of her tomato macaroni soup - & with just the right amount of fresh ground pepper warmed any one's soul. My middle sister tended to have a picky palette so this recipe ended up getting adapted to simply tomato juice, broth & noodles! I have reconstructed from my taste buds memory a version I would like to think was the original that my mom placed in front of us for the first time. Be careful with the noodles as they tend to go very soft the longer they sit in the juices. You may opt to keep them seperate until you're about to enjoy; although I do find less flavour in the noodles. My husband advised me the other day that this was the best batch I made to date - so the secret is beef broth rather than chicken!

1 cup ground beef cooked
3 garlic cloves minced
3 green onions diced
1 yellow onion diced small
1 tsp olive oil
1 ½ cups elbow noodles

1 ½ cups beef broth
2 cups tomato juice
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
Ground pepper to taste
1) Add garlic, onions & olive oil to ground beef. (Oil may not be necessary if enough natural oil from beef) & brown on low heat

2) Boil noodles to al dente; drain & add to large soup pot (you may choose to add only as you serve to avoid noodles getting soft)

3) Add beef mixture, broth, tomato juice & diced tomatoes to soup pot & simmer over medium/high heat for 10 minutes & serve

1 cup = 192 calories