Tag Archives: supper

Child’s Play

9 Aug

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My cooking is a lot of things. I like to think it’s healthy, delicious, fun, creative….(no, this is not a post dedicated to self-flattery, just in case you were wondering)….but kid-friendly isn’t always one of them. You all know how much I love fruits and veggies now. Well, really, I always have, but back when I was a kid, there was a list of ones I didn’t like, including squash, tomatoes, and Brussels sprouts (I’m sure there were many more but I can’t think of them as of right now). Needless to say, I have embraced them and am trying to make up for lost time with those under-appreciated veggies.

So when my little cousins (it should be noted that their ages are 14 and almost 12, so at this point they’re not really “kids,” and certainly not “little,” but since I was the youngest until they came along, they’ll always be my “little” cousins) accepted my invitation for a sleepover Saturday night, I racked my brain that would make us all happy: tasty, kid-friendly, and veggie packed. The answer?

POTATO BAR! My family got the idea for this meal from a summer camp that my sister attended growing up (I went one year, suffered terribly from homesickness, and never went back). Basically, everyone gets a baked potato and loads it up with their choice of toppings. I served the potatoes with salad on the side. Although the above two photos just look like a plate of veggies, I PROMISE there is a potato under there (I should have taken pictures of my cousins’ plates, as they were much more “conservative” with the veggies than I, and you can actually see the potatoes). The toppings we had to choose from were:IMG_2478

  • butter spray/butter/margarine
  • fat free sour cream
  • light grated Tex-Mex cheese
  • light feta
  • bacon
  • ham
  • chopped mushrooms
  • chopped green onion
  • salsa
  • lightly cooked broccoli
  • chopped tomatoes

I started with butter spray, then added all of the above (minus the bacon). As you can see, I had a heavy hand with the veggies. In my somewhat limited experience in cooking for kids and/or people with dietary restrictions/people you don’t know well, I’ve found that self-serve, build-your-own meals work best. That way, if there’s something that some like and others don’t it’s easy to leave out. I was happy with my ham, cheese and veggie extravaganza, my cousin was equally satisfied with bacon, cheese, a touch of salsa and some broccoli. This is a great meal to feed a crowd too. It’s fun for all, and, other than chopping, pretty low-maintenance in terms of prep.

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I promised my cousins that if they came to sleep over this summer, we could make ice cream in my new ice cream maker together. Once again, I wanted to find a recipe that would satisfy my desire for something healthier but also meet the taste criteria for younger tastebuds. So when an allrecipes email came into my inbox with a link to this new recipe for Strawberry Freeze by “Laurie” that contained only three ingredients – buttermilk, strawberries and sugar, I was intrigued. The local strawberries available sealed the deal.

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from Laurie at allrecipes.com

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 cups fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup white sugar, or to taste
  • 3 cups buttermilk

Place 1 cup buttermilk, strawberries, and sugar into a blender. Cover, and puree until smooth. Pour in the remaining 3 cups buttermilk and blend until combined. Pour into ice pop molds and freeze or if using an ice cream maker, freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.

*Obviously, I went the ice cream maker route, not the ice pop way. The recipe ways it makes 8 servings, but I’d say more than that or you’ll have 8 really big servings!

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Blending up the strawberry goodness.

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The finished product. I know it looks like we added food colouring, but I promise we didn’t – it’s 100% all natural. This “freeze” was quite delicious – not too sweet at all (thanks to the buttermilk I think). Although, it did suffer the same problem as many of my healthier frozen treats. It got quite hard the second day. Still delicious, just needs a bit of microwaving before serving.

Do you have any go-to menus/recipes when cooking for kids?

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Fajita Fiesta

30 Jul

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Happy Long Weekend fellow Canadians (and happy Saturday everyone else)! I hope you are enjoying the beautiful summer weather.

Last night was our first round of entertaining for the weekend, so I decided to do a BBQ version of fajitas. I love fajitas. They’re actually one of my go-to choices at restaurants when there’s not a lot of healthy stuff to choose from, as it’s easy to pick and choose which toppings you want. And it’s a great meal to feed a group for the same reason – you put what you want on your fajita, so it suits a variety of preferences.

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But since it is summer time and grilling is practically an institution when entertaining, I decided to take things outside and do the meat and veggies on the BBQ instead of in a skillet on the stove (bonus: saves calories because you don’t need oil).

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I decided to do a “mixed grill” of chicken and steak (but I marinated all the meat in the same bag – I don’t know if that’s a no-no or not, but you know me, always the rebel).

The marinade was pretty simple, and, not to toot my own horn, but it turned out really well. The meat was tender and super-flavourful. I used 2 Mesquite-marinated steaks from M&M, so they added a bit of their seasoning, then I added:

  • lime juice
  • red wine vinegar
  • Ancho chile powder (Ancho is great because it’s not as spicy as a lot of other chiles, but still adds great Mexican flavour)
  • cumin
  • Epicure salsa seasoning
  • a few cloves garlic, lightly crushed
  • salt and pepper

IMG_2336I put my steaks and chicken breasts in a Ziploc bag and marinated in the fridge for several hours, turning the bag several times to distribute the marinade.

I grilled the meat over high heat, then removed, covered with foil and let it rest while I grilled the veggies (red pepper, Vidalia onion and zucchini), which I sprayed with PAM for the grill and seasoned with salt and pepper.

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After the meat had rested for about 10 minutes (this helps keep all the juices in), I thinly sliced it (along with the veggies) and plated it all up. For tortillas, I went with Dempster’s whole wheat Body Wise tortillas (I know corn is more authentic, but the grocery store didn’t have them and I wasn’t in the mood to go hunting).

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We had a wide variety of other toppings, which included:

Our sides were delicious, local corn on the cob and red cabbage slaw (same recipe I made for my mom’s birthday, only with the addition of a Granny Smith apple I had leftover) .

I think it was safe to say that the meal was enjoyed by all. This is a pretty easy meal to put together for summer entertaining, and a nice change from the usual steaks or burgers (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

Speaking of burgers, we’re hosting a build-your-own-burger bar supper here tomorrow night for between 12 to 18 people! It’s going to be epic, with lots of decadent toppings and some seriously delicious 80/20 style desserts! So I may or may not make it on to HHH to update you tomorrow, but I plan to do NOTHING Monday, so for sure I’ll be back by then.

Since in my town on the August long weekend, we celebrate Friendship Festival (yes, one of the advantages of living in a small town, we are cool enough that we have a weekend-long festival devoted to friends), I would like once again to wish you, my blog-friends, a happy long weekend. May it be filled with food, family, and FRIENDS!

Quick and Cool

22 Jul

As per the subject line, this is just going to be a quick post, as I was gone for about 12 hours yesterday (funeral out of town).

Tuesday night I needed supper fast. It was after 6 o’clock, and I was hungry. It was IMG_2222hot outside, and I didn’t want to make something that would require a lot of time and heat. So I went for something burger-inspired that only needed a microwave – no grill, stovetop or oven – Hungry Girl’s Big Bad Burger Wrap. I have to say, this is one of my favourite HG recipes. It comes from her 200 under 200 Cookbook. It’s easy to make, and full of classic burger flavour. Here’s how it all goes down.

Hungry Girl’s Big Bad Burger Wrap from 200 under 200

    1 large tortilla (low calorie if possible – I use my beloved flatout wraps)
    1 Boca Original Meatless Burger (or whatever type you can find here in Canada)
    1 wedge Laughing Cow Light Original Swiss cheese
    1 pickle spear, chopped (you can also add chopped onion, as I often do).
    1 teaspoon mustard
    1 teaspoon ketchup
    2 dashes Hot Sauce of your choice
      Prepare Boca patty according to box directions, either in the microwave or in a pan sprayed with nonstick spray. Chop patty into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
      To make sauce, combine mustard, ketchup, and hot sauce in a small dish. Stir well and set aside.
      Warm tortilla in the microwave for 10 seconds. Lay tortilla flat and spread cheese wedge on top.
      Place chopped burger and pickle in the center of the tortilla. Top with sauce. Fold the sides of the tortilla in, and then roll it up from the bottom. Enjoy!

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    On the side, I had a HUGE, super-awesome Mediterranean Quinoa Salad. As best as I can remember, here’s what went in it:

    • chopped tomatoes
    • chopped pickling cucumbers (LOVE the crunch!)
    • spinach leaves
    • chopped green onion
    • chopped red onion (hey, I love onion – what can I say?)
    • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa (I love cooking up a big batch and having it leftover in the fridge)
    • chopped red pepper

    My dressing was a mix of fat-free Italian salad dressing, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard and olive oil. Of course, there was salt and pepper over it all. Mmm….this salad was absolutely delicious, very filling, and loaded with fresh summer flavours. In other words, pretty much perfect – I’d definitely make it again!

    Happy weekend friends! Hope you can enjoy the beautiful weather – but stay cool! Any exciting plans? I’ve got 2 pool parties on the horizon (I’ll be sharing the tasty appetizer recipe I made for today’s party shortly).

    Oats, peas, beans and barley grow

    19 Jul

    Oats, peas, beans, and barley grow,IMG_2208
    Oats, peas, beans, and barley grow,
    Can you or I or anyone know
    How oats, peas, beans, and barley grow?

    …anyone else know this song? I feel like it may have been a Sharon, Lois and Bram classic. Anyways, that’s what was going through my head as I picked snow peas and beans from my garden today. I just need some oats and barley to complete my song! Or maybe I could rewrite the lyrics: “herbs, peas, beans and zucchini grow”? Any takers?

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    So you know me, almost as soon as I got those guys outta the ground, I had to get them into my stomach! Exhibit A: my delicious watermelon, ham and veggie salad for lunch yesterday (there are peas and beans under all that pink-ness, I promise!). My greens were spinach and garden-fresh arugula, the vegetation was red pepper, cucumber, yellow and green beans and snow peas from the garden, cucumber, red onion and tomato. I used up the last of the watermelon leftover from the fruit bouquet and 4 slices of lean deli ham (preservative-free, thank-you-very-much). For herbage, I added some fresh cilantro.

    I topped this all off with salt and pepper and a delicious vinaigrette made from schmancy maple wine vinegar, fat-free Italian dressing, oil and Dijon mustard. Once again, another salad winner, folks! Peppery arugula, sweet and juicy melon (just that combo alone was FANTASTIC), crunchy veggies, and herb-y freshness from the cilantro: summer perfection! Another added benefit? The lovely pink hue. Nothing like a salad in your favourite colour to get your week off to a good start!

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    Exhibit B: The delicious bean side dish I made for supper last night. It was a riff on a Martha Stewart recipe I made last summer for my mom’s birthday called Neapolitan Green Beans. The original recipe calls for simmering the beans with fresh tomato, slice garlic, chili flakes, and basil. I have done my own variations on this dish several times, and they all turn out great. Here is a loose recipe guideline to help you re-create and/or re-invent this dish.

    Neapolitan Green Beans

    Adapted from Martha Stewart

    • Green and/or yellow beans to serve as many as you’d like
    • Tomato/some sort of tomato product (you can use any kind of fresh tomato – plum, cherry, regular, or canned tomatoes, or tomato sauce, or any combination of the above) This time, I used a bit of frozen spicy tomato sauce and part of a fresh tomato.
    • A pinch of chili flakes (omit if you don’t like things spicy or if you’re using spicy tomato sauce, as I did this time)
    • Fresh garlic, sliced (use as much or as little as you’d like)
    • A few sprigs fresh basil
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Trim the beans and cut in half. Place the beans, chili flakes, garlic, tomatoes and salt and pepper in a pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer on medium-low for about 10 minutes. Add basil sprigs (leave whole), increase heat to medium and simmer, uncovered for 5 to 7 minutes until liquid is slightly reduced. Remove basil sprigs and serve.

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    When the beans have simmered for about 10 minutes and look like this, it’s time to….

     

     

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    ….add the basil! Then simmer away some more.

     

     

     

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    This is what it looks like when it has simmered and is ready to go…just take the basil out first!

     

     

     

    This is a seriously simple side that tastes amazing! It will be even better when made with the fresh tomatoes that will arrive in my garden in a few weeks. No taste better captures the essence of summer than fresh tomato and basil, if you ask me.

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    Now, what to pair these beans with for a garden-fresh summer meal? So glad you asked. How about a Sobey’s Compliments Chipotle BBQ chicken breast, quinoa with balsamic sage mushrooms, and corn on the cob? Yes, I think that would be nice.

    All joking aside, this was one tasty, summer-licious meal. The only downside? A lot of pots to clean – between cooking the quinoa, the beans, the corn and sautéing the ‘shrooms – that was 4 pans!!! Good thing there was no clean up from grilling the chicken! Smile with tongue out

    Do you have any favourite “unconventional” summer sides (besides the usual suspects – potato salad, corn-on-the-cob, etc)?

    Let the insanity begin!

    12 Jul

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    Two zucchini. This may not scream insanity to you. Well, then you’ve obviously never grown zucchini before. These were the first two (of MANY to come) zucchini I harvested from my garden on Sunday. For those of you unfamiliar with the all-space-consuming phenomenon that is zucchini in your garden, allow me to enlighten you: once they start, they come on strong and they DON’T STOP. The plants are huge, and bear much fruit (or vegetables).

    In summers past, I have made innumerable recipes for zucchini breads and muffins, roasted them, grilled them, stuffed them, made zucchini cookies, even a zucchini dip once! I plan to do most of those things (and more) this summer, so expect to see a lot of zucchini cropping up on HHH in the coming months…you’ve been warned! And if you live near me, or are visiting the area, please please please allow me to give you some of my bounty – you’ll be doing me a IMG_2097favour!

    The zucchini was used in the tasty pasta I made for lunch on Sunday, as well as in my supper, which I like to call “summer on a square” (in case you can’t tell from the photo, the meal was served on a square plate). This meal was just completely and totally summer-y and delicious, so much so that I was tempted to scream “I love you summer” at the top of my lungs as I ate in my backyard, but I feared that that might alarm the neighbours, so I kept my seasonal exclamations to myself. Allow me to break this plate of summer goodness down element-by-element.

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    The zucchini element. I made a tasty salad by grilling about 2/3 of one of the zucchini, seasoned only with salt and pepper. I tossed the zucchini with some sliced tomato, topped with more salt and pepper, a simple balsamic vinaigrette (balsamic, fat-free Italian, Dijon and a touch of Splenda) and chopped fresh basil (green and purple, just to be fancy). Simple, but delicious. The only thing that would have made it better would be if the tomato had come from my garden, but that will come in time.

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    The last of the leftover “birthday beans.” Let me tell you, even after a few days in the fridge, these guys were still delicious. I wasn’t tired of them at all, despite eating them (in various incarnations) throughout the week.

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    Veggies, chips, and dip – perfect at any summer BBQ, no matter how small. More specifically, PC Blue Menu Tzatziki (which keeps remarkably well in the fridge, I’m not going to disclose how long the current container has been in there), fat-free Sour Cream and Onion Pringles (American), baby carrots and kohl rabi. What is kohl rabi, you may ask? Here’s a picture of what it looks like whole: IMG_2090

     

    …and then after I peeled and cut it up:

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    I saw kohl rabi at the market on Thursday, and decided to give it a try. I had seen it and heard of it before, but never bought it. The vendors at the farmers’ market were very helpful and eager to answer my questions (as most farmers’ market vendors are…don’t be shy!). You need to cake off the green peel, you can eat it raw or cooked, put in salads, etc. It kind of tastes like raw cabbage (a taste that I enjoy). I cut mine in wedge-shaped pieces for optimum dipping.

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    Burger. It’s no secret how much I love burgers – but this one might make you laugh a bit, mainly because I put meat on a veggie burger! Smile with tongue out I wanted to create a “cordon bleu”-style burger, so I spread one wedge of Laughing Cow light on a thin bun, topped with grainy mustard, sliced ham, arugula from my garden, a Boca burger, more ham and a thick slice of grilled Vidalia onion. YUMMY! Why the veggie burger, if I’m adding meat anyway, you may ask? The short answer is that since I was adding more calories with my meat/cheese accompaniments, I wanted to start with a base burger that was lower in calories.

    Now if you can come up with a meal more summery than my “summer on a square” – chips, veggies and dip; garden-fresh salad, baked beans and a burger, I wanna see it!

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    Speaking of garden insanity, Sunday marked the beginning of another “harvest season” in my backyard – raspberries! The pictures above show a little bit of my patch (which started many years ago with just 10 little stalks in the back of my vegetable garden, which we have since had to re-locate due to the raspberry expansion). You can’t really tell from the photos, but the patch is pretty expansive. What this means is that for the next couple of weeks, raspberry picking will become my life. If I fail to update this blog on a regular basis, assume I’ve IMG_2101passed out in the patch due to raspberry exhaustion.

    I LOVE raspberries, but they are a royal PAIN to pick! They are nice and thorny, and the bushes give me a mild rash (as do zucchini plants, by the way), so I usually have to don a long-sleeved shirt and pants to pick, which, as you can imagine, feels wonderful outside in the July heat. And since it is “my” patch, that means I have the sole pleasure of picking them (lucky me, right?). No one in my family has any problem helping eat the berries though…funny how that works. All whining aside, I know I’m pretty lucky to have an amazing crop like this right outside my back door.

    Last year wasn’t a very crop, but things are looking good this year. My berry yogurt/cereal bowls are looking up already. Smile

    For today’s question, I ask, do you have any good zucchini recipes/uses/ideas you’d like to share? I think this season I’d like to try making relish…

    Sides Show

    10 Jul

    Everyone needs some good summer sides, right? IMG_2014Either for a BBQ at your place or a summer potluck, it never hurts to have a few more recipes for tasty, healthy dishes, right? So, as promised yesterday, here are the sides that completed last week’s birthday barbeque-less BBQ dinner menu. Both are from the July/August issue of Food Network Magazine.

    Red Coleslaw with Grapes – serves 6 to 8

    • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
    • 2 teaspoons sugar
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
    • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I used 2 tbsp oil and 2 tbsp fat-free Italian dressing, to lighten things up even more)
    • 1 small or 1/2 large head red cabbage, finely shredded
    • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
    • 6 scallions, chopped
    • 2 cups seedless red grapes, chopped

    Make the dressing: Whisk the vinegar, mustard, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in the olive oil until well blended.

    Add the cabbage, parsley, scallions and grapes to the bowl and toss to coat with the dressing. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 4 hours before serving.

    Baked Beans with Swiss ChardIMG_2026 – serves 6

    • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 small onion, chopped
    • 1 small stalk celery, finely chopped
    • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
    • 1 small bunch Swiss chard or mustard greens, stems removed, leaves chopped
    • 1/2 cup diced smoked turkey or lean ham (about 2 ounces)
    • 1 15-ounce can whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
    • 2 15-ounce cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1 15-ounce can navy beans, undrained
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
    • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
    • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano

    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and golden, about 7 minutes.

    Add the chard, turkey and 1/4 cup water to the skillet; cook, stirring, until the chard wilts slightly, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, increase the heat to medium high and simmer until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Add the pinto beans, then add the navy beans and their liquid. Add the parsley, thyme and oregano and return to a simmer.

    Coarsely mash about one-quarter of the beans in the skillet with a potato masher or fork to thicken the mixture; season with salt. Transfer to a 2-quart baking dish. Cover and bake 45 minutes, then uncover and bake 10 more minutes.

    *Public service announcement: Please ignore the apple cider vinegar in the ingredients shot for the beans. For some reason, I got it in my head that there was vinegar in there, but clearly, there’s not. I only realized this once I had already started the recipe. Thank you for your cooperation (not like you have a choice Smile with tongue out).

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    Mashing up part of the bean mixture with a potato masher.

     

     

     

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    This is what it looks like when it’s ready to go into the oven.

     

     

     

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    …and when the beans come out.

     

     

     

    Now the coleslaw was great, I really enjoyed it. But…I CANNOT say enough about these beans! Seriously…I. LOVE.THEM. Now, these are not what you would typically think of as “classic” baked beans (molasses/brown sugar, bacon etc) but I love this twist on them. And if you are lucky like me, you’ll have a good amount of leftovers.

    The leftover beans were a standout in the salad I showed you yesterday. IMG_2056Also delectable on Friday stuffed inside a pita with garden-fresh lettuce and arugula (I almost forgot I had that stuff for a while…SO good), mustard, onion and tomato, with a bit of leftover coleslaw and a big old pile of roasted garlic scapes on the side.IMG_2063

    Saturday, the beans made another star turn in a delicious tofu shirataki “pasta” dish. I sautéed a boatload of fresh veggies (zucchini, asparagus, orange pepper, garlic scapes, sliced portabella) and a minced garlic clove in a teaspoon of olive oil, then added part of a can of San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand, salt and pepper, reduced heat and simmered a bit, and at the last minute, added chopped fresh basil.  I made HG girlfredo, and stirred this in, along with 1/2 cup of the beans, simmered for a couple of minutes just to heat through and served – voila! This was SO tasty and filling with all the veggies and protein and fibre-packed beans.

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    Speaking of awesome uses of the leftovers from Wednesday’s birthday meal, I just can’t sign off without showing you this simply AMAZING pizza I made Friday night: Slightly Spicy BBQ Chicken Pizza. By now, you know what I did for the crust.

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    For the sauce/meat component, I mixed 1/2 cup of the leftover pulled chicken with just a bit of light ketchup and BBQ sauce, a couple of dashes of the hot sauce I bought in Mexico (‘cause I like to live dangerously) and some cumin (I like it smoky).

    I spread this on top of my crust, then topped with 1/3 cup light shredded Tex-Mex cheese, chopped red bell pepper, Vidalia onion and chopped jarred jalapenos (there I go living dangerously again).

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    When the pizza came out of the oven, it looked like this. But I didn’t stop there.

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    After slicing it up, I topped with the rest of the leftover coleslaw and some chopped fresh cilantro. I have seen enough BBQ recipes where you put slaw on the bun to think that this might be a good idea – and it was! The sweetness and coolness of the slaw contrasted perfectly with the spicy, smoky chicken – I’d definitely do this again!

    Just to recap the birthday menu, since it was broken down over 3 posts, I thought I’d bring it all together for you here:

    HG Guacamole with veggies and Guiltless Gourmet Chips

    HG Crockpot Pulled Chicken on Buns

    My Mom’s Potato Salad

    Red Coleslaw with Grapes

    Baked Beans with Swiss Chard

    Chocolate Cappuccino Cake

    Try some (or all of it)….it was really good!

    Barbeque Supper (sans BBQ)

    9 Jul

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    So yesterday, I shared the cake recipe from my mom’s birthday with you. I thought, since the meal was so tasty, you’d like to know how to re-create the rest of it. It never hurts to have a full roster of recipes for summer entertaining, right?

    So you’d think that for a birthday on July 6, a barbeque IMG_2013is a no-brainer, right Or maybe you’re super-clever, read the post title and figured that I’m going an alternate route). Although the crockpot is often thought of as a go-to tool in the winter, perfect for long-cooking roasts and stews, it is more than just a fairweather friend, and can make great summer meals as well (just ask Katie). I used my slow cooker to make Hungry Girl’s slow-cooked pulled chicken (recipe here) and served it on light buns  – a much lighter option than delicious but fatty pulled pork. Recipe tip: I added a teaspoon of cumin because I like it smoky. Also, the recipe is VERY saucy, so I pulled the chicken out of the sauce and shredded it, then just added part of the sauce (please save the rest though, don’t throw it out!).

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    The pulling in process!

     

     

     

     

     

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    Our starter was another HG favourite: guacamole! Now, if you click here and read the recipe, or look at the photo below, you’ll notice that there are CANNED PEAS in it – please don’t get scared off! The peas help keep the dip way lower in calories/fat than traditional guacamole, but still keep a good colour/texture/flavour (and don’t worry, there’s still avocado in there too). And trust me, everyone LOVED it.

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    Looks like typical guac ingredients, right? Look closer at that yellow can in the bottom right….peas please! And of course, buy some Guiltless gourmet tortilla chips to go with (optional but HIGHLY recommended – Spicy Black Bean are my fav).

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    This is the peas all mashed up and ready for the other ingredients to be added – if you don’t tell your guests, they’ll never know!

    I served the dip with the chips and some cut up veggies (I ate mostly veggies).

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    I had 3 sides. Number one was the potato salad you see above. It comes from an OLD and super-simple family recipe. All you do is cook new potatoes (my mom usually peels them, I like skin on – your choice), then slice (and maybe peel) while still warm. Add red wine vinegar (my mom would want me to tell you that it HAS to be Unico brand or it won’t taste the same), olive oil, chopped fresh chives, and salad and pepper to taste. Chill to let flavours blend – that’s it! Growing up, I didn’t used to like this (crazy I know), but in my family, this is what potato salad means – not your typical mayonnaise-y deal.

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    Sides numbers 2 and 3 came from my Food Network Magazine, delayed due to the postal strike, but which arrived the day before my mom’s bday (perfect timing, eh?). There was a fun article called “Choose Sides,” where they took typical summer side dishes and made light and rich versions. I made the light versions of the baked beans and coleslaw: Baked Beans with Swiss Chard and Red Coleslaw with Grapes. IMG_2014

    Both were yummy, and a nice twist on classic sides. Since this post is getting lengthy, I will share these recipes with you tomorrow. Another plus of this menu, is that is very make-ahead-able (which makes for easy-breezy summer entertaining). Even better, this meal made for absolutely AMAZING leftovers. I was saying to my friend, I was actually HOPING for leftovers when I made this meal….do you ever do that? You know, when you just KNOW that leftovers will be absolutely delicious and possibly even better the next day? …so I will show you my leftover supper today and then come back tomorrow with thIMG_2047e two side recipes.

    Thursday’s leftover supper was a bit unconventional, but delicious nonetheless: a dish I’m calling “Hot and Cold BBQ Salad Bowl” with a side of guacamole and veggies. Don’t knock it ‘till you’ve tried it, that’s all I have to say.

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    I started by making a small salad with garden-fresh lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, green onions and orange pepper. I poured some of the leftover sauce from the chicken (which I saved and DID NOT throw out) over top.

     

     

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    Then, I heated up a nice big scoop of the leftover chicken and the beans in the microwave.

     

     

     

     

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    All together now! I topped the salad base with the hot chicken and beans, and then some of the beautiful coleslaw. Mmm…this was the PERFECT mix of flavours, temperatures, and textures. It was like when you’re at a barbeque with lots of different things on your plate, and all the juices and flavours kind of run together. So maybe, if you’re someone who doesn’t like your food touching/mixing, you wouldn’t like this salad…but I sure did!

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    And of course, I couldn’t let that leftover cake in the fridge go to waste, could I? Winking smile

    Back tomorrow with the bean and coleslaw recipes, my friends. But I hope you try these recipes – as I said before, perfect easy-breezy summer entertaining!

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    Speaking of summer, I just love it. The photo to the right shows my location while typing this post (any guesses?). I enjoyed a road trip to Brantford, class and swim at the gym (while I’ve got my cheapie wagjag membership), and then headed to Starbucks to be one of those cool bloggers who blogs there, while drinking an iced passion tea and then later on, chatting with Donna. Oh summer, I love you!

    How are you enjoying summer this weekend?

    Show and Tell

    6 Jul

    First of all, although she would probably kill me for doing this, I have to give a  IMG_1967shout-out to my mom, who is celebrating her birthday today – happy birthday mom! Now that I’ve got that out of the way, on with the post. I promised on Monday that I would share some of my “American novelty food purchases” with you – so here I go. Warning, this post may have one of two effects on you, depending on your nationality. If you are American, you might laugh and/or get bored with my amusement at products not yet available north of the border. If you are Canadian, you may become annoyed and/or jealous of my fabulous food finds. Either way, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

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    Item Number One: Thomas Breakfast Thins These guys are available in blueberry and cinnamon raisin (I bought both of course). I’ve only tried the blueberry so far, but it was delicious. A welcome change from the typical thin bun at breakfast. I did my usual – toasted (minus the cinnamon Splenda sprinkle ‘cause I figured it was already sweet), topped with 1/4 cup ricotta (mixed with Splenda and vanilla) and fresh berries. Cafe mocha to drink on the side. Speaking of new stuff, don’t my cup and bowl from Anthropologie look lovely? And how about that cute tea towel underneath (don’t worry, you’ll be seeing lots more of it iIMG_1966f you can’t get a good look).

    Item Number Two: Fiber One 90 Calorie Brownies (also pictured at the top of this post, with the Anthropologie mug again). Just like the thins, these came in two flavours (chocolate peanut butter and chocolate), and of course, I bought both. Umm…a brownie with 90 calories and 5 g fibre? SIGN. ME. UP. I hope the the folks at Canadian fibre one will catch on quickly, just like when they did a copycat 100 calorie version of the American 90 calorie bar. And by the way, these things are GOOD! I only wish I bought more.

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    Item Number Three: Bush’s Grillin’ Beans: Black Bean Fiesta I bought these on a whim at Target, ‘cause they were on sale. And since they’re not in a super-sweet sauce and don’t have any meat in with ‘em, they’re pretty reasonable in stats.

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    I had the beans as a side dish with Saturday’s BBQ supper: grilled chicken (a chipotle-flavoured one from Sobey’s), asparagus, Vidalia onions, and a salad made with Israeli couscous and fresh herbs and veggies. Everything was delicious, and the beans made a perfect side dish – good flavour, but not too spicy (not that that would bother me though).

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    Items numbers four, five and six: Fiber One 80 calories Honey Squares, Barbara’s Bakery Peanut Butter Puffins and Stonyfield Oikos Caramel Greek Yogurt Be jealous, be very jealous here, my fellow Canadians. When you combine one and a half cups fresh berries, a container of this divine yogurt, and 1/4 cup each of the above mentioned cereals, you get a dessert that is more like breakfast! And doesn’t it look just smashing in the bowl placed on the cute tea towel, both from Target? IMG_1986My only regret about this bowl is that there wasn’t more of the yogurt….it was just that good. I decided to enjoy my second one on it’s own with lunch the next day, so I could enjoy the delicious flavour to the max. And peanut butter cereal? Yumfest. I remembered reading about them on Carrots ‘n Cake, so I decided to go for them when I saw them at Target – a decision I’m NOT regretting. I think these guys would be great to snack on – on their own, or mixed with popcorn or other cereal. Better still, according to the website, all of Barbara’s stuff is: “free of artificial preservatives and ingredients, hydrogenated oils, and refined white sugar.” The 80 calorie stuff was good, bot amazing, but pretty decent for the low caloric and high fibre price tag.

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    Item Number 7: DaVinci Sugar Free Caramel Syrup Good news Canadians – you can get this stuff (or another brand) in Canada, it’s just not readily available in stores I frequent on a regular basis. I used it to make an absolutely delightful iced coffee by combining with instant coffee + water + 1 cup unsweetened original Almond milk + ice in my stylish new Target glass (I bought two, so if anyone wants me to make you such a drink, c’mon over)!

    All in all, tasty finds for delicious summer eats. I’ll probably share more as I use more stuff. But my conclusion? All of this stuff, but especially Stonyfield Oikos caramel Greek yogurt and 90 calorie fibre one brownies NEED to come to Canada….sooner rather than later!

    Sweet and Salty Salads

    28 Jun

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    It’s no secret that I love all things sweet and salty. Pretzels and peanut butter, salted caramel…I could go on (and on and on)….but sweet and salty salad? Seems a bit more unlikely, but trust me, it’s good! In the last week, I’ve tried 2 sweet ‘n salty salad combos, and both have worked out delightfully.

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    My first attempt was for a lunch last week. It seems like in the food world (blogs, magazines), I’ve been seeing the watermelon feta combo EVERYWHERE for the last few summers. It’s always intrigued me, but I’ve never tried it, and since I had watermelon in the fridge leftover from Father’s Day, I decided the time was right to give it a go. My base was spinach leaves, which I topped with watermelon and feta, fresh mint, tomato (I feel like I’ve seen those 2 in many of the recipes I’ve come across), Vidalia onion (because I love ‘em, and WHY NOT?) and steamed asparagus (because it’s in season, and I put it in practically everything I can this time of year).

    I made a fruity vinaigrette with one of my schmancy wine vinegars from Niagara to top it all off. The verdict? Yum! Perfectly cool and refreshing…could be a new summer classic! I love the salty feta paired with the sweet watermelon, and the mint added a nice freshness. I will definitely do this one again (although, since asparagus season is drawing to a close, it sadly may not make an appearance).

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    SSS (sweet salty salad) # 2 was created for last night’s (low carb day of the week….last one for June) supper. I was home later after signing up for my one month cheapie membership at the Athletic Club and trying my first class which reduced me to a quivering pool, and wanted something quick and cool (and of course, low in carbs) and that used up stuff in the fridge.

    This salad’s greens were lettuce, chives and parsley FROM MY GARDEN (sorry, didn’t mean to shout at ya there, just lovin’ the local). I topped them off with “normal” salad veggies for me (cucumber, mushrooms, red pepper, Vidalia onion), then some grapes that had been in the fridge since, as Katie would say, “Jesus walked on water,” sliced fresh strawberries (I would have gone all berry, but my desire to use stuff up won), diced ham (had some in the fridge, also leftover from Father’s Day, that needed to be used) and a tablespoon of sunflower seeds for crunch. I mashed a couple of strawberries into my dressing, created with another one of my fancy wine vinegars (maple this time).

    Results? Also delicious. Sweet and salty wins every time. Now, it’s no peanut butter and pretzels, I’ll admit, but still incredibly fresh and delicious.

    Two side notes:

    1. I am STOKED about my one month membership at the Athletic Club. And although my Shape up for Summer challenge officially ends as of Thursday (full summary/recap to come), I think this is just what I needed to push myself more in my workouts, if my soreness from my first class (TRX, a totally cool weight class which uses this crazy harness thing, your body weight and resistance) is any indication. Just glad they also have a pool so I can use that to recover!

    2. I am also STOKED about the huge bump in my site stats the last 2 days. I don’t know if I’m done anything in particular to draw in new readers, but my numbers went WAAAAY up Sunday and yesterday. So a big thank you to everyone who stops by to hear my ramblings and follow my journey. I truly appreciate you all and I hope you enjoy reading this little blog as much as I enjoy writing it.

    Question: What’s the most unusual salad combination you’ve ever created?

    Happy Tuesday everyone!

    Porky Pizza Pleasure

    25 Jun

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    Boston Pizza used to have a Jack Daniel’s BBQ pork pizza that was majorly delicious, and for some reason, one of the lowest-calorie options on the pizza menu (for the life of me, I can’t figure out why). But it got last in the midst of one of their menu reinventions. Sad smile Of course, I won’t let BP get me down. Inspired by the last few pieces of pork tenderloin from Father’s Day last night (yep, I used 5 day old leftover meat…don’t judge), I created my own version.

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    My sauce was a mix of everything you see in the photo (although I think I might have forgotten to add the liquid smoke): crushed tomatoes, light BBQ sauce, light ketchup, cumin and sugar twin (in a pinch, you could just dump in some BBQ sauce, but I’m pretty sure this ends up being lower in calories). I mixed the sauce together, then added the pork tenderloin, which I had finely chopped.

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    To create sort of a quick pulled pork-like texture, I microwaved the sauce/meat mixture on high for 2 minutes. Crust was the usual – by now you know the drill (toasted light wrap). I spread the sauce/meat over it, topped with 1/3 cup light Tex-Mex cheese, then chopped mushroom, red pepper and Vidalia onion (can’t get enough of those guys). I baked it for a few minutes ‘till everything was melted and hot. Mmmm….sweet and smoky! BP, who needs you anyway?

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    Side dishes: two. Number one was this soup, which was super-easy to make, but not a flavour all-star. Good, but not great. All I did was microwave some chopped garlic scapes, broccoli and asparagus in salted water until very tender, almost mushy (7 minutes on high). I used my immersion blender to puree the veggies and most of the cooking liquid (in retrospect, I would have drained a tad more, as the soup was a little thinner than I would have liked…but it all depends on your preference) with 2 wedges of Laughing Cow light cheese, fresh dill, and salt and pepper…that’s it, that’s all.

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    Side dish number two was in fact, quite simple AND delicious: roasted garlic IMG_1902scapes! All I did was toss some chopped garlic scapes with olive oil, fresh ground salt and pepper. I roasted at 425 (I think!) for 20 to 30 minutes. What I liked about this was the mix in textures – some of the scapes got kinda crispy, while others still had a nice chew. I ate them with my fingers – sort of like some green twisty, garlic-y oven fry. I thought for a second about roasting them with garlic, but then stopped myself. That is like putting garlic on garlic, which might be a bit much, even for me! Smile

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    Do you have any favourite restaurant dishes that have been discontinued? Have you ever tried to recreate them at home?