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Red Deer Foodie

…getting busy in the kitchen!

Monthly Archives: November 2011

Have I ever mentioned how much I love Chatelaine Magazine?  It’s great Canadian content – awesome recipes and lots of good articles!  The December issue is great and surprisingly not overloaded with millions of “Christmas Dinner” recipes, and includes a very interesting recipe for Thai Fish Curry.  I made it, with a few changes though 😉  One thing about it – looks like a soup in the picture, but turns out more like a chowder – I think that’s because the butternut squash melts down and thickens up the dish.  I also added a little stack of rice noodles, so this could have also contributed to the creaminess of the dish.
Anyways, the flavour was amazing – check out the changes I made to the recipe (bolded):

Thai Fish Curry
250 g or 1/2 lb frozen cod (I used the High Liner Market cuts because Todd’s not home – he would die if I showed up with frozen fish lol)
1/2 cup green onions, chopped fine
2 tbsp coconut oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp Thai green curry paste
2 cups butternut squash pieces
400ml can coconut milk
1 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp lime zest
small pkg of clear rice noodles
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 tbsp sliced basil leaves

Remove fish from freezer and let stand for awhile; cut into 1 inch pieces.

Heat coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, until melted.  Add the onions, garlic and curry paste and cook for about 2 minutes. 

Add the squash, coconut milk, broth and fish sauce.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add fish and cook uncovered until fish is cooked through ~ 5 minutes.  Add the rice noodles and cover – cook for another 2-3 minutes or until the noodles have softened. 

Stir in the lime juice and zest.  

Spoon into bowls and top with cilantro and basil.   ENJOY!


Way to go Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood – you’ve inspired another kick-ass meal at our house.  I flipped through my new favourite cookbook tonight after work and settled on page 50 which boasted a delicious recipe for Pomegranate, Almond & Feta Salad.  What I turned it in to was a bright and cheery warm salad – slightly modified and guided by ingredients I had on hand.  Check it out (bold words are the things I changed or added):

Bird Seed Salad with Pomegranate
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup quinoa
1/2 cup mixed seed mix – I used the seed trail mix from Amaranth at the Enjoy Centre in St. Albert – it contains sunflower seeds, pepitas, cashews, almonds, a few other things, and dried cranberries!
2 cups spinach leaves
1/2 cup soft-ripened or goat cheese
1 shallot, sliced thinly
1 pomegranate, seeded
3 tbsp cranberry balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
3 tbsp olive oil
4 tsp honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp poppy seeds
salt & pepper to taste

Cook the quinoa in the usual way; bring the broth and quinoa to a boil, cover and simmer for 10 mins, turn of the heat but leave on the burner for additional 4 minutes and you’re done.

Meanwhile, roast your nuts/seeds in a 350degree oven for about 7-8 minutes.  While all this is happening, get the dressing ready: combine vinegar, oil, honey, dijon, poppy seeds and s&p.  Whisk until slightly thickened – set aside.

In your serving plates, start with spinach and top with cheese.

Sprinkle with shallots, quinoa, pomegranate seeds and toasted seeds.

nom nom nom

Top with dressing and enjoy!  Another super quick dinner!  For the record, I would love it if I ordered this salad in a restaurant and actually got something like this – Todd said the only thing missing was a chicken breast, so next time I make it for dinner, I think I would grill some chicken and marinate it with a the same dressing.

Another busy day at our place; Nick had hockey at 8am, went and worked out, then I decorated the house for Christmas, which took all afternoon and THEN we had to get ready to go see Nick play at the Red Deer Rebels hockey game!  It was really cute because all the little guys get their turn playing during an intermission of the games – super exciting for them!

Anyways, I needed a quick dinner and this is what I came up with:

Low-Fat Basil Carbonara
1/4 pkg of linguine or fettucine (make enough pasta for 2 or 3 servings)
1/2 cup skim milk
4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese (I used the low-fat Kraft type rather than the fresh parm petals)
2-3 tbsp fresh basil, sliced really finely
salt & pepper
1/2 cup chopped bacon (about 3 slices – I also discarded the really fatty white parts)
1 large shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large egg

Get a large pot of water boiling – add sea salt & cook the pasta according to directions – you will want to cook it to al dente or a bit under because it will cook for a bit in the frying pan later…  Before you drain the pasta, reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid – very important!!!

In a large non-stick frying pan, get the bacon going over medium-high heat, until nice and golden and crispy.  Reduce the heat to medium low and add the shallot and garlic.

In a small bowl, combine the milk, parmesan, basil, salt & pepper. Set aside. Once the pasta has been drained and that important water has been reserved, add the milk mixture to the bacon mixture… you can bump up the heat a little bit – maybe to medium depending on your stove. Add the pasta in there and stir.

Next up – in the same bowl you had the milk mixture in, beat your egg.  Very slowly, add the reserved water from the pasta – stirring the whole time!!  This is called tempering and it is super important because you dont want to have scrambled eggs in your pasta!

Slowly – go easy to avoid scrambling that egg!

Now you can add the egg and water into the pasta, stir to combine fully and cooked through for about 4 minutes over medium.

Action shot!

VOILA – dinner is done – garnish with a bit more fresh basil, a dash of parmesan and a little fresh ground pepper.  Normally, carbonara is made with a lot of butter and or heavy cream and a lot more eggs.  I found this technique in a really old Cooking Light magazine and I dont even follow the recipe anymore because its just that easy!  You can also use pancetta, but I had bacon – I have also seen recipes for this using turkey bacon, but I have not tried – if you try it at home, let me know how it works out! 

So easy and aside from the bacon, not a lot of fat!

Nick in goal at his first Big Leage game!

I have no idea why, but tonight I was big time in the mood for fish!  And not just any fish – fish cooked “en papillote” which is the fancy French way of saying “cooked in parchment paper”.  Last year I went through a major phase and was cooking seafood and chicken en papillote constantly.  The best things about cooking this way: no pots or pans to clean, basically use whatever flavours you’re in the mood for, and super healthy and flavorful!  Not to mention the little “packages” of love look tres impressive at dinner time! 

So off to market I went after work and picked up some lovely halibut (steaks! was told by husband to not choose these in the future b/c of offensive bones but oh well – he can buy them next time!)  The thing about living in a prairie province, halibut is expensive – like 3x more than any other fish I spied at the fish counter – but I got hell-bent on the idea of halibut and ran with it.

I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to cook with it, so just bought a ton of fresh herbs and different vegetables and figured by the time I got home, I would know what to do!

that basil was calling my name!

Halibut en Papillote
2 halibut steaks (filets maybe a better bone-free choice?)
3 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped
2-3 tbsp fresh basil, sliced fine
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 cups fresh spinach
salt & pepper
~2 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 375degrees.  Prepare 2 large squares of parchment paper and fold diagonally to form a triangle.  Cut into a heart shape and open up – set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix tomatoes, basil, shallots, garlic, olive oil, lemon, salt & pepper.  Set aside.

Grab your parchment hearts and open up like a book.  On one half of the heart, pile up a cup of the spinach leaves.  Place the halibut on top and sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Top with a couple little pats of butter.

Top with half of the tomato mixture and some of the accumulated juices. 

Fold the “empty” side of the paper over top of fish etc like closing a book.  Then, starting at the inside top of the heart, crimp the edges over, following all the way to the bottom – forming a tight seal on your little package.  Repeat with the second parchment heart and the rest of the ingredients and place both packages on a cookie sheet or shallow backing dish.  I also spray the top of the packages with non-stick cooking spray before putting into the oven.

Shove in the oven for 20-30 minutes, depending on how thick your filets are – cook until halibut gets a flakey moist texture.  Remove from oven – place the little package on a plate and cut a little “x” on the top of the package.  I served with sliced baguette to soak up all of the lovely juices.  So delicious and easy!!!

I know I’ve already mentioned that the weather here has been extremely cold… yes, I know I need to get over it!  I live in Central Alberta – it’s freakin cold and yes, this happens every year.  Maybe as I am getting older I am getting less able to deal with the climate – time to move to Arizona!!! Oh wait, can’t retire for another 22 years – le sigh – looks like it’s going to be another LONG winter! 

Anyways, too cold even for the kids to play hockey outside, which meant entertaining a seven year old for the afternoon!  We did some crafts for a bit, then decided to make these s’mores cups – so easy and really tasty!  I’ve seen a few pictures of these on Pinterest but I decided to make up my own recipe… not sure if I made the right choices or not, but since they seem to be a big hit, I’m going to say they are super good!!

S’mores Cups
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar
12 large marshmallows, cut in half
about 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350degrees.  Bust out your mini muffin pans and lightly spray with a non-stick cooking spray (this recipe makes exactly 24 little sugar bombs).  Melt the butter in the microwave and let cool slightly.  Combine with crumbs and sugar.

Put1 tbsp scoops into each of the muffin cups and “push” down to form little cups.  Kids love doing this but watch out b/c my “exact” counting on the recipe can dwindle quick!!

Bake in the oven for 5 mins.  Remove from oven and put 4-5 chips in each little cup. 

Top with with a marsmallow half and put back in the oven for anywhere from 1 minute (if you like the marshmallows white and still pretty in tact) for up to about 6 minutes (if you like them golden browed and about to explode).  I baked them for about 6 minutes.

this is after a minute and a half…
this is after about 6 minutes – looks more like I did them on the fire, don’t you think?

Remove trays from the oven and let cool on a rack – after about 6 or 7 minutes, the cups should lift right out of the trays fairly easily.  Melt the rest of the chocolate chips and drizzle on top of the cups when they are cool.

My cups came out really crisp and crunchy – the marshmallow took on almost a meringue-like texture too.  I’m wondering if other types of sugars would have different effects – or if we could get away with less sugar?  If you have a tried and true recipe for these things, I would love to know and try!!

Anyways, store the cups in an airtight container – not sure how long they will even last in the house!!  Enjoy 😉

A lazy Sunday indeed – too cold to do anything and I don’t have my winter tires on yet (installed on Tuesday!) and I’m super paranoid to drive on the roads in the Mazda.  Argh – never bought them in my life, but my new car is so light that it just flies on our stupid icy roads – especially in the Close I live in!  I can’t wait to get the tires on and I am going to totally off-road when they’re on – just kidding!! I will feel a lot safer though!

Anyways, today I used pantry and freezer items and cooked this dish up:

Slowcooker Sweet & Sour Pork Chops
4 centre-cut pork chops
1 can pineapple chunks (separated the juice and fruit – keep both)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp cornstarch
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
1 large green pepper, chopped
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped

serve with: quinoa (cooking directions for quinoa on this page)

Spray the inside of your slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray.  Put the chops in and arrange as evenly as you can… I took them right out of the deep-freeze and right into the slowcooker.  Top the chops with the pepper, onion and carrots.

In a bowl, combine the sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, cornstarch, garlic, ginger and pineapple juice.  Pour this on top of the chops and veg and stir so that everything gets coated.

Set slowcooker for 5 1/2 hours on low, stirring once or twice during cooking time.  When you’re almost ready to eat, stir in the pineapple and heat through – about 5 or 10 minutes.

Pretty easy for a Sunday hey?  Hope you all have a great week!

Okay I think I am addicted to quinoa cooked in chicken broth.  I cooked another meal with it last night and there were no leftovers!  I think this is a good thing.  Anyways, I started cooking a recipe from Quinoa: The Everyday Superfood 365, but realized I didn’t really have any of the required ingredients that would generate Thai Cashew Chicken and Broccoli on Quinoa… I was so super close to rummaging thru a bowl of trail mix and picking out the cashews, but thought better of it – I was after a QUICK meal, not a pawed-thru meal.  Anyways, here’s what I came up with:

Spicy Thai Chicken & Quinoa
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into bite-sized chunks
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2-3 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger root
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup quinoa
1 tsp sesame oil
2 cups brocolli florets
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion (white and green parts)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 red thai chili, minced
3/4 cup water
3 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp agave nectar

Get your quinoa on: bring the broth and quinoa to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat and put a lid on it to simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside until dinner’s ready – fluff with a fork, yada yada yada – yah, I act like I’m a pro with quinoa now.

In a bowl, combine soy sauce, hoisin, garlic, ginger and Thai chili.  Add chicken and let marinate for a bit – the cookbook says you can do this for up to 24 hours, but I guess that would be for someone who is actually on the ball and remembered to take out ingredients the night before.  I just mixed it all up and cooked – still tasted great!  In a large skillet or wok, heat sesame oil.  Add chicken and marinade and cook over medium high until done, about 8-10 minutes.

While that is happening, in another bowl, combine water, peanut butter and agave.  Set aside.  Get your brocolli, green onions and cilantro ready because things will start happening quickly!

Once chicken is cooked through, add brocolli and the peanut mixture.  Crank the heat up to high to get things going.  When you think the brocolli is almost there, then chuck in the green onions.  After about 5 minutes total, you’ll see the sauce is pretty thick and lovely.

Serve over the quinoa and then garnish with cilantro.  How easy was that?  The downsize is that there wasn’t really any leftovers so we had to go out for lunch today – which was okay too 😉

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