Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Goat Cheese and Spinach Stuffed Chicken

I didn't always like goat cheese. In fact, I quite detested it. Every time I tried it, I always thought it tasted "goaty". It just wasn't my thing. Until recently. All of a sudden I developed a taste for the tanginess of the goat cheese. I really enjoy it! You just never know. One day your palette just changes.

I decided to make stuffed chicken breasts with goat cheese and spinach that I had hanging around and needed using. I first cooked the spinach in a pan until wilted. Let it cool and then chopped it. Sauteed an onion and mixed it together with the spinach, the zest of a lemon, salt and pepper to taste and of course the goat cheese. Stuffed the chicken breasts and baked them. They were so delicious and I almost forgot I was eating chicken breast. The cheese was so creamy. Mmmmm!!! I can't wait to make these for a dinner party. You can make them ahead of time and keep in the refrigerator until ready to bake.


Goat Cheese and Spinach Stuffed Chicken

5-6 chicken breasts, boneless
1 red onion, chopped
1 cup cooked spinach, chopped
1 cup goat cheese, room temperature
Zest of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil to sauté the onion and drizzle over chicken

Preheat to 400F.
In the meantime, in a pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the onion until soft. Set aside and let cool for a couple of minutes. In a bowl, mix the spinach, goat cheese, lemon zest, salt and pepper, and add the sautéed onion.
Using a sharp knife held horizontally and starting at the thinner side of the chicken, cut in half almost but not all the way through, like a book. Spread approximately 1 tablespoon stuffing on one side and fold over with the other side. Salt and pepper the top and place in a greased, oven proof dish. Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake in oven for 30 minutes or until chicken is golden and no longer pink inside.



m xo








Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Stuffed Tomatoes

This recipe came together easily enough. I was supposed to make stuffed portobello mushrooms for dinner but after seeing an iridologist earlier in the day for some minor health issues, she told me to eliminate mushrooms. So I had to come up with plan B. Stuffed tomatoes! Why? Because they were on my counter. And actually, they were really great because I used ground chicken and the tomatoes added a lot of juice. John really enjoyed them.


I essentially used my meatball recipe but subbed the chicken for the beef and because the iridologist also told me to eliminate bread, I subbed soaked oatmeal for breadcrumbs. It worked well for this. I would definitely do this for meatballs and tomato sauce too.

I had about a dozen medium sized tomatoes and I still had a little stuffing left over, which I made into a patty and grilled. It just depends on the size of your tomatoes. I'm going to say 12 for this recipe and if you have left over stuffing, grill it for lunch the next day.



Stuffed Tomatoes

12 medium sized tomatoes
1 pound ground chicken
1/2 cup oatmeal, soaked in milk for 20 minutes
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped herbs (I used a combination of cilantro, mint and basil)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
olive oil to drizzle over tomatoes

Preheat oven to 400F.
Slice off the tops of the tomatoes and with a small spoon, scoop out the seeds and some of the membranes. Sprinkle the inside with salt and turn upside down on paper towels.
In the meantime, in a bowl combine the ground chicken, soaked oatmeal, egg, parmesan cheese, herbs, garlic, salt and pepper. Stuff the tomatoes to the top and place in a greased oven proof baking dish. Drizzle the tops of the tomatoes with more olive oil. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes until the tops are golden. Serve.

m xo

Monday, 28 July 2014

Pesto Alla Trapanese

I had a wonderful weekend spent with family and friends! We really lucked out because it was supposed to call for rain, pretty much both days. But on Saturday it only rained in the morning and on Sunday it started to rain late evening, just as our guests had all gotten in their cars. And we had just spent ALL afternoon, outside, eating wood burning oven pizza that my husband made. I really thought we had to cancel and reschedule another day, but John had faith all along that it wouldn't rain and my girlfriend Anna, put rosary beads outside just to make sure. Hahaha! See what the power of intention can do?

This recipe for pesto has been calling my name for a couple of months now. I always make the classic pesto with basil, pine nuts, garlic and olive oil. Especially this time of year when basil grows in my garden abundantly! I make a lot it and store it in the refrigerator or freezer. So nice in the middle of winter when all you have to do is boil pasta with some potatoes and green beans and you have Pasta alla Genovese. Mmm, mmm, good!

This pesto is a little different as it has almonds and tomatoes. The rest is pretty much the same. But can I tell you? The almonds make the sauce so creamy. Delicious! I ended up throwing it on everything. For lunch, I brushed some on merluzzo fillets and then I baked in the oven. So tasty. And then for dinner, I spiralled zucchini with my trusty vegetable spiral slicer, salted it to drain the water, wrung the zucchini with my hands and sautéed over high heat with a splash of olive oil. Then I tossed it with the pesto. A nice, light side dish.

 And of course, it's amazing on al dente pasta!


This makes enough for 1 generous cup of pesto but you can easily double it.

Pesto Alla Trapanese

1/2 cup almonds, toasted and cooled
A generous handful of basil, washed and dried
2 cloves of garlic
1 cup cherry tomates
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1 peperoncino
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

In a food processor or blender, drop in the garlic and blend. Add the almonds and blend until all the nuts are ground. Add the basil, cherry tomatoes, parmesan cheese, peperoncino and salt and blend again. Scrape everything down and blend again to make sure everything gets blitzed. With the machine still running, drizzle in the olive oil in a steady stream until it looks like a puree. You might have to add a little more oil. Make sure it's at room temperature when ready to serve or store in refrigerator for another time.



Enjoy!
m xo





Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Panzanella

It's summer time!!!! Woo too!!! Can you tell this is my favourite time of year? Hence my lack of postings. Sorry. I'm out and about. Lots to see! Lots to do! And lots to eat! Everything just tastes so much better, don't you think? I'm still cooking and baking but I just haven't had a chance to sit down and write. I'm still trying to balance this all out. I'm trying not to be so hard on myself for not keeping up with things. I guess I have to cut myself some slack. But I had to share this great summertime salad!


If things do get a little hectic and you want to throw something together quickly, I urge you to make this! Panzanella! Because you let the tomatoes sit in the vinaigrette for a few minutes, the ingredients just come together to make a flavourful tasting salad. You basically throw in your tomatoes, cucumbers and a simple vinaigrette of red wine vinegar and olive oil. Add some day old, crusty bread that you have hanging around and serve. The lack of dairy makes it a great dish to bring to a picnic.


Panzanella

2 pounds of tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 English cucumbers, cut up
1 cup of artichokes (in water or oil), halved or quartered
1 red onion, sliced
1/2 cup kalamata olives
1 cup basil leaves
Bread, baguette or ciabatta

For vinaigrette:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Preheat to 400F. Place bread on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool, tear into pieces if bread is in bigger pieces and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, cucumbers, artichokes, red onions, kalamata olives and torn up basil.
To make the vinaigrette, in a mason jar, combine olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and dried oregano. Shake and pour over salad. Let mixture sit for at least 10 minutes. The longer it sits, the juicier the tomatoes will be. Add the bread and serve.


m xo


Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Happy Birthday to Me…Cardamom Carrot Cake!

This year I decided to make my own birthday cake. Strange, you say? Maybe. But think about it. You decide what kind of cake you want, you know all the ingredients that are going into it and then you get to share it with the people you love!

Let me tell you how this came about. My sister Antonella offered to make me my birthday cake and I decided I wanted a cheesecake this year. Which is unusual but I really had a craving for it. She was going to use local raspberries as the topping. Yummy! In the meantime I took a quiz on Facebook, posted by food52, asking "what cake are you?" and I got "Carrot Cake with Cardamom". I do enjoy a nice carrot cake but what I REALLY love most about carrot cake is the cream cheese frosting!!! Sooo good. I bought all the ingredients to make this cake and figured, hey, you can never have too much cake. I would be enjoying the cheesecake and the carrot cake for the next few days. Definitely no complaints here. But then Antonelle got sick so I NEEDED to make my own cake. Hahaha!

The carrot cake is the recipe from food52. I liked it because it has cardamom in it, which I love. I made some adjustments though. The original calls for both white and brown sugar, I only used brown sugar and I  cut it down by half a cup. I also replaced I cup of the flour with spelt flour. I didn't use the cream cheese frosting that the recipe called for. It was too much for what I needed so I found one on line from Good Housekeeping. It's the perfect amount and not too sweet. I like my cream cheese frosting on the tangy side.

So for your next birthday, I encourage you to make your own cake and most important, share it with the people you love!!



 Carrot Cake with Cardamom 

Cake

1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
4 cups grated carrots
2 cups flour
1 cup spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
Zest of an orange
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup yogurt

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease and flour two 9" cake pans.
In a bowl, beat the sugar and the eggs until light yellow. Add vanilla. In a large bowl, combine the grated carrots, flours, baking powder, cardamom, cinnamon, salt and orange zest. Toss to coat. Add the oil and yogurt and stir until combined. Pour batter evenly in the pans. Bake until golden, about 50 minutes. Cool completely. Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/4 cup butter, softened
400g. cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar

In a large bowl, with a mixer or by hand, beat butter, cream cheese, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the confectioner's sugar until blended and light and fluffy.

m xo


Saturday, 5 July 2014

You say cold soup, I say gazpacho...Pineapple Cucumber Gazpacho

I didn't know if I should call this a cold soup or a gazpacho. Either way, I think it alienates a lot of people as soon as you say it's a cold soup or gazpacho. You either love it or hate it. I personally love it. It's very refreshing and it has a nice kick from the jalapeno.

I've had this recipe on hand a few years and I recently came upon it again when I cleaned out a closet that I've been meaning to get to for a while. I used to make it all the time in the summer. Put everything in a blender and Bob's your uncle. Easy. Peasy.


Pineapple Cucumber Soup

3 cups fresh pineapple
3 cups cucumber, peeled
1/2-1 jalapeño, depending on the heat you want
2 green onions, white part only
handful of cilantro
1 cup coconut water
juice of a lime
1 teaspoon salt

Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix until pureed. Chill  and serve.


Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Minestrone Soup with Fregola

Schools out and I had my niece Ella over and she wanted to help out in the kitchen so I thought, why not make a soup? It involves a lot of chopping and slicing and a little sous chef is always welcome! I just used what I happened to have in my refrigerator which included some corn on the cob that I steamed in foil packets over the weekend. I took the kernels off the cobs and added it to the soup 10 minutes into the cooking, seeing as they were already cooked. But you can use fresh corn off the cob or frozen corn that is thawed, just add it along with the other vegetables.


Because I had the kids for lunch I added fregola (a small, Sardinian semolina pasta) to the minestrone. You can use orzo or any small pasta. Or you can make it totally pasta free, which I usually do but I have to say I totally LOVED it with the pastina! Reminds me of my childhood because my mother always added tubettini (small tubes) in the minestrone.

I also added a piece of parmesan rind to soup as it was cooking because it adds a lot of flavour and I always have some on hand in the refrigerator  I never throw them away! They are great to throw in soups. If you don't have any on hand, you can top the soup with grated parmesan when serving.


Minestrone Soup with Fregola

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/4 cup sliced pancetta or bacon
1 leek, white and light green part only, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
5-6 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 small zucchini, chopped
1 bunch of asparagus, chopped
3 corn on the cobs, kernels removed or 2 cups frozen corn, thawed
4 cups chicken broth + 2 cups if adding pasta
1 cup of fregola, orzo or any small pasta
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 piece of parmesan rind (optional)
Grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn

In a Dutch oven, over medium/high heat, cook the pancetta or bacon in the olive oil until crispy. Add the leek and red onion and sauté until soft. Add the carrots, celery, zucchini, asparagus, corn and 4 cups of chicken broth if not adding pasta or 6 cups if adding pasta. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Bring up to a boil, add the fregola and the parmesan rind if using. Keep an eye on it, stirring frequently to make sure the fregola doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. It should take about 20 minutes for the pasta to cook. If not adding the pasta, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Take off the heat and stir in the torn basil leaves. Serve hot with grated parmesan cheese.


m xo