Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Zesty Summer Chicken

I bought a microplane this week, and I got to use it today! It was a banner day! I don't know what that expression means, but it sounds like something exciting.  Just like using my microplane for the first time.

Today's inspiration comes from my favourite food magazine, the LCBO's Food & Drink magazine. They have the BEST recipes.  This one was originally for grilled spatchcock chicken, but I don't have a barbecue right now, and I had defrosted chicken breasts... so I just used the marinade since it sounded amazing.

Zesty Summer Chicken
from the LCBO Food & Drink Summer 2013 issue
2 tsp lemon zest
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1-2 Tbsp lemon juice (I used half a small lemon)
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
chicken breasts (2-4)
  1. In a large enough dish, mix together lemon zest, juice, parsley, paprika, oil and salt.
  2. Dredge chicken through the marinade, coating both sides.
  3. Cover and refrigerate 2-4 hours.
  4. Heat ~1 Tbsp oil in a large frying pan, and cook the chicken breasts, turning one and testing to see if cooked through before serving.
  5. Alternately - grill on the barbecue, I bet it would be delicious!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Blueberry Mini Hand Pies

I have a problem, an addiction really.  My problem lies with the 4 pints of blueberries, 2 pints of fresh Ontario strawberries and another pint of raspberries in my fridge.  I can't help but keep buying them, because they're so fresh and so cheap.  3 pints of blueberries for $5!

Anyway, a friend of mine was having a barbecue last weekend, and I volunteered to bring some desserts so that I could put some of those delicious berries to good use.  I thought about strawberry tarts, but I was afraid that leaving custard out in the sun would be a disaster.  I decided to do something I hardly ever do, check out all the food apps on my phone! It was fun, and I found a recipe for blueberry hand pies which looked both easy and delicious!  I decided to make them tiny, so that they would make a good bite-sized treat.

Blueberry Mini Hand Pies
from Epicurious
1 pint fresh blueberries (or 2 cups frozen)
1 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 egg whisked with 1 tsp water
raw sugar
1 1/2-2 packets puff pastry, or your own recipe for flaky pastry
white flour, for dusting
  1. Defrost pastry overnight in fridge, or on counter in the middle of summer for a few hours.
  2. Once your pastry is defrosted, preheat oven to 375F/190C
  3. In a large bowl, mix blueberries, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and salt.
  4. Dust your counter or workspace and your rolling pin with flour, then roll out one pastry block at a time into a large sheet.
  5. Cut pastry into small (1 1/2" by 2", or your preference) rectangles.
  6. Spoon a small portion of blueberry mixture onto one half of pastry rectangles, then fold over and seal the two sides of pastry .
  7. Transfer to a baking tray lined with parchment paper and lightly brush the top of the pastries with the egg bath, then sprinkle with raw sugar.
  8. Bake for 30-40 minutes, rotating trays halfway through.  Pastry should be golden and unfortunately some of that delicious blueberry juice should be leaking out onto the parchment.
  9. Allow to cool on a wire rack, then enjoy!

Enjoy some tasty seasonal fruits, everyone!

Thursday, May 30, 2013


As a kid, I always hated when my mum would make gaspacho. I didn't like cucumber, and I HATED raw tomatoes.  Now that I've grown up, well at least taller, I've come to love tomatoes, and I have a healthy respect for fresh cucumber (although we're still not best friends).

I went to the Taste of the Food Terminal in Toronto this past weekend, and I came home with a ridiculous amount of fresh fruits and veg. Including 3 cucumbers.  I still don't love cucumbers, but I sure couldn't let them go to waste.  I asked around, and several people (my mum included) suggested I make gazpacho.  So I did.

For those who don't know, gazpacho is a cold soup which is Spanish in origin.  It's main ingredients are tomatoes, (bell) peppers, cucumber and onion, and a brief survey of recipes online show many, many possible additions to those base ingredients.

This recipe is based on my mums, in that it is hers, but it's one of those frustrating recipes where you add "enough" of each ingredient.  I've tried to make it as straightforward as possible.

1 can no salt added diced tomatoes
3 small brown onions
1 red pepper
1 1/2 cucumber
2 large handfuls baby carrots (~1 - 1 1/2 cups)
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp fresh parsley
1 Tbsp fresh basil
1 Tbsp sugar
salt & pepper, to taste 

  1. Peel and coarsely chop onion and garlic, coarsely chop red pepper and carrots. Toss into a food processor. (If you don't have a food processor, I suggest you borrow one, it needs to be finely chopped).
  2. Peel and seed cucumber, coarsely chop and add to food processor.
  3. Throw in canned tomatoes, herbs and sugar.
  4. Pulse all ingredients in food processor until finely chopped.  It should appear somewhat liquidy, but not pureed.
  5. Add a small amount of salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Transfer to a large bowl, cover with saran and refrigerate for a few hours to allow flavours to combine.  You want the saran wrap to sit on the surface of the soup, to avoid exposure to air which can cause discolouration.
  7. Serve cold, especially on a hot day.  Add salt and pepper to taste when serving.

This recipe makes enough to feed a small army, but on the upside it keeps well in the fridge for up to a week.  I've heard mixed responses online as to whether this can be frozen or not.  It depends on how smoothly you blend the soup, I would imagine.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Roasted Red Pepper and Garlic Cream Cheese

I've been on a delicious kick lately.  I'm making flavoured cream cheeses.  Why not just buy the pre-flavoured ones, you ask? Well... as far as I've seen there's no roasted garlic and jalapeno, or chipotle in adobo flavoured ones sold by Philadelphia. That's why.

And let me tell you, I love cream cheese, but I might marry these flavoured varieties.  And the best part -- no matter how good they taste on day one, if you make it to the end of week one, they get even better.  The flavour deepens and improves as it sits in your fridge.

I got this idea from a story I read online, and a few of us ladies brain stormed until the ever lovely Queen of All That Is Delicious posted a recipe for Nariz que Moquea, also known as schmear.  I've made it a few times and it's absolutely amazing.... so I wanted to try and come up with my own variation.

For this recipe, I roasted my own red peppers and garlic, but you could use store bought roasted peppers. I haven't quite gotten the hang of roasting peppers yet, so no recipe for you on that. But you're smart, I bet you can figure it out on your own, or maybe in a few weeks I'll post some instructions.

Roasted Red Pepper and Garlic Cream Cheese
2 roasted red peppers, quartered
1 head garlic, roasted (~2 Tbsp)
1 pkg Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
  1. Leave cream cheese out on the counter for several hours to allow it to soften.
  2. In your blender, mix roasted red peppers and garlic until smooth.
  3. Add cream cheese, blend until evenly combined.
  4. Scrape into a container with a good seal (e.g. Tupperware) and refrigerate for as long as you can avoid temptation.

This will be great on bagels, toast, tortillas, or a spoon.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Potato Cheddar Perogies

I asked my friend last weekend what I should do as my cooking adventure this week. She said "perogies!".  Challenge accepted.
It was a brilliant idea.

Perogies are a favourite guilty pleasure of mine.  I say guilty because they're served with cheese and bacon on top and sour cream on the side.  Not very healthy, but definitely very tasty.

Friendly warning however, this took me a little over 3 hours.  It wasn't difficult, it was just a long process. I started by making the filling, and let it sit on the counter to cool down while I made the dough.   Also -- you really really want to get a dough press for this. You can buy them at the dollar store. It's inexpensive and super useful if you're ever going to make dumplings, or ravioli, or even fancy finger sandwiches.  My mum happened to mention that she had one last week so I traded yard work for the use of her dough press to make these.  I really dislike yardwork.

Potato Cheddar Perogies
(from Canadian Living)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 egg
3/4 cup water
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 2-3 large potatoes)
2 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup finely chopped or grated onion
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 - 1 large onion, sliced and separated into rings for sauteeing
1/2 - 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6-8 pieces bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)
sour cream
  1. Fill a medium pot with cold water, add salt and potatoes. Bring to boil.
  2. In a medium frying pan, melt butter then add onions. Fry until golden and tender
  3. Boil potatoes for 10-15 minutes or until tender.
  4. Drain and transfer to a large bowl, mash well.
  5. Add onions, grated cheese, salt and pepper.
  6. Stir to combine, then set aside.
  7. In a mixing bowl, combine flour and salt.
  8. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, egg and water.
  9. Gradually add wet ingredients to flour and mix to combine.
  10. If needed, add 1-2 Tbsp more water to bring the dough together.  It should be soft but not sticky.
  11. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, or using dough hook, beat in mixer for about 7 minutes.
  12. Separate dough into two balls. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and set aside for 20 minutes. 
  13. This is a great time to pour a glass of wine, or do some dishes. 
  14. On a lightly floured surface, turn out dough, one ball at a time and roll to be ~1/4" thick.  
  15. Using dough press or cookie cutter, you want circles approximately 3" in diameter.
  16. If you're using a dough press, put the circle on the open face, pressing firmly against the "crimping" edge.  
  17. Add about 1 tsp of filling, then wet the edges of the dough circle to help them stick. Fold in half, pressing firmly to seal. Repeat.  Re roll scraps to make the most of your dough.
  18. Set finished perogies on a baking tray or lightly floured surface and cover with a dish towel.
  19. This recipe makes 24-36 perogies, so any that you aren't planning on eating tonight, can be put into the freezer on a baking tray overnight, then transferred to a Ziplog freezer bag.
  20. Fill a large pot with salted water, bring to a boil.
  21. In batches, gently drop uncooked perogies into boiling water.
  22. Remove the perogies when they float to the surface (~5 minutes).  Allow to drain.
  23. Heat oil in a large frying pan. Sautee onion rings for topping.
  24. When onions are clear and soft (8 minutes), set aside.  Add drained, boiled perogies to pan.
  25. Turn after about 5 minutes, to get them golden brown on either side.
  26. Serve topped with sauteed onion, crumbled bacon, grated cheese and sour cream.
  27. To prepare frozen perogies, boil from frozen (will take ~10 minutes), then fry.

These perogies were fantastic, but they're definitely a special occasion treat.  They took an entire afternoon to make.  I haven't tried the frozen leftovers yet, but the fresh ones were better than the frozen ones you can find in the grocery store.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Muddled Lemonade

Spring has finally sprung! Oh frabjous day, calloo, callay!

In honour of spring weather and fresh produce, I decided to make a fruity, refreshing pitcher of "something", and this came to mind.

I love lemonade.  I always have at least one can of lemonade in my freezer.  I find it so refreshing, and adding the mint just amplifies that.

Muddled Lemonade
1 can Minute Maid lemonade from concentrate
2 Tbsp (small handfull) fresh mint leaves
3-5 strawberries
frozen grapes (optional)
  1. Pour lemonade from concentrate into bottom of pitcher, add mint leaves.
  2. Muddle slightly with a rolling pin or long spoon to release the flavour of the mint
  3. Add strawberries, muddle slightly.
  4. Add water per lemonade concentrate instructions
  5. Set in fridge for a few hours to allow flavours to settle.
  6. Serve over frozen grapes or ice cubes.

This can be served as-is, or can be mixed with vodka, gin or alcohol of your choice for a fresh cocktail.  Best enjoyed in the sun with friends.

Frozen grapes are great to keep around.  When you buy a bunch of grapes and you know you're not going to finish them, rinse a bunch off, remove the stems and put them in a freezer-safe Ziploc bag.  They make a great healthy snack, or you can use them in place of ice cubes for a fresh summery drink.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sriracha Butter

Happy New Year!
(*cough* forgot to hit post)

I'm still on a hot-sauce kick. My fridge is stocked with Nando's peri-peri (in both hot, and mild herb), Frank's Red Hot, and Sriracha!  Yesterday I got a snack fever and instead of eating something, I surfed pinterest for Sriracha recipes. It was super fun, and strangely satisfied my appetite.

I've made blue cheese, and herb and cracked pepper butters before, but when I came across this little gem over at The Endless Meal, I thought to myself that the possibilities are endless.

If you're not familiar with Sriracha, it's a brilliantly flavoured asian-style hot sauce, made with red chillies.  If you can't find it in the asian food section of your local grocery store, plan a trip to the asian markets near you. Much like Franks, you can put this on anything! I've even seen recipes for Sriracha-based sweets, although I'm not sold on those.

Sriracha Butter


1/2 cup butter, softened
3-4 Tbsp Sriracha
  1. In a small bowl, mix together butter and Sriracha until well combined.
  2. Store in the fridge in an air-tight container (such as a small jar) for several weeks

Recommended use:  Grilled Cheese and Apple Sandwiches with Sriracha Butter.  I had these for lunch today actually, oh my goodness. Seriously.

In case you need more ideas about Sriracha, check out the Sriracha cookbook blog (and their book too), and Bon Appetit's post on 25 Ways to Use Sriracha.

Even better, check out The Oatmeal's Ode to Sriracha.