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Red Deer Foodie

…getting busy in the kitchen!

Monthly Archives: January 2012

This one is definitely for the kids! Cheese cheese and more cheese. And a few vegetables thrown in, but don’t worry – they’re totally hidden in the sauce so no one suspects a thing!  Super simple Sunday dinner, but would also be a gret weeknight dinner you can throw together in about 20minutes.

Tortellini Primavera
Ingredients:
3 cups assorted chopped fresh vegetables (I had mushrooms, red peppers, carrots, brocolli, cauliflower)
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp butter
salt & pepper
2/3 cup Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1/2 cup skim milk
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 large package of Olivieri Three Cheese Tortellini (just under a pound)

Method:
Get a large pot of water boiling and cook pasta according to directions.  Meanwhile, prep all of your vegetables.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium high and add the vegetables and garlic.  Season with salt & pepper and saute until almost done.

Lower heat a bit and add the cream cheese and milk.  Once the milk and cheese have unified, add the parmesan and stir to combine.

Add the cooked pasta and VOILA – super easy dinner that any kid will dig – leftovers heat up easy for lunch tomorrow too!

Tomorrow one of my favourite friends EVER is retiring after 30 long years with the Ministry!  We’re having a big party for him in Spruce Grove tomorrow and the theme is “out of this world” because my little buddy is real big into everything paranormal.  I wish I was retiring too because then we could open up our own X-Files consulting company!

Anyhoo, I decided I would make a tried and true sugar cookie recipe that another co-worker posted on our office SharePoint; I’m not sure where she sourced this from, or if it’s her own creation, but it never fails and always comes out awesome!  If I ever find out her source I will give credit because it’s just such a great recipe.

Alien Sugar Cookies
Cookie Ingredients:
1 1/2 butter
2 1/4 sugar
6 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3 tbsp milk
3 tsp baking powder
6 cups flour

Icing Ingredients:
3 tbsp meringue powder
4 cups icing sugar
6-10 tbsp warm water (depending how thick/thin you want it)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Method:
Combine milk, eggs, sugar, butter & vanilla together – I used my food processor because I’m lazy like that!

Mix flour and baking powder, then add to the creamed ingredients a bit at a time (took me about 6 additions).  After adding about three quarters of my flour mixture I had to turn it into a large mixing bowl to finish off because I only have a 10 cup food processor and it wouldn’t all fit – this is a super large batch, in case you haven’t already figured it out!!

Mix until a uniform dough comes together. Split in half and form into 2 discs – wrap tightly in saran wrap and chuck in the fridge for about an hour.

Time to get baking!  Preheat the oven to 375degrees and prepare cookie sheets with parchment paper.  On a lightly floured surface, foll the dough out into about 1/4″ thickness and then cut into your desired shapes with cookie cutters.

Bake each pan for about 8 minutes, until the bottoms start to turn golden brown.

Let the cookies cool on the pan for 2-3 minutes so the cookies don’t fall apart when you remove them to cooling racks.

Let the cookies cool completely before icing them.  Now’s a great time to enjoy a couple glasses of wine and make your icing!  In a large glass bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients, then slowly add the water until you get the consistency you want.  I added a bit of colour gel too to make the little guys a nice flourscent alien green!

It takes a couple stirs, but it eventually comes together.

In total, this batch made over 80 cookies!  It’s funny because we’re always so sad when someone retires, mostly because we’ll miss having them around!  But I’m kind of excited for Rick to bust outta here and pursue all his other-worldly interests…  I can’t wait to hear all of his adventures from down in Arizona!! 

Me and Rick last summer – will miss having him around at my immediate disposal,
but I will be able to catch him on the dark side of the moon or maybe at Area 51!

Chicken Fried Quinoa!  It’s not what you think!  Or what I thought when I originally skimmed thru my trusty Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood… I was thinking it was some crazy variation on what Americans seem to enjoy “chicken fried anything!” For example, I have never had a chicken fried steak, but I think I would like to try it one day – can someone tell me – is it just like a veal cutlet but with a steak inside instead of a little veal?  Curious.

Anyways, Chicken Fried Quinoa, as described on page 89 of my fave cookbook, is actually a variation of Chicken Fried RICE – duh, why didn’t I clue in earlier???  Anyways, there is a lot of prep-work and chopping with this one, but totally worth it!!  So great, and Todd said “I would definitely want to eat this again. You should cook this again” so I guess that means it was a hit.  The texture is a bit different from the originial (more moist) but the flavours are great.  You could totally play around with the vegetables, add more, add less, some little shrimps, some tofu, maybe some cashews?  Bust it out b/c this is a gooder.  Here’s my take (here’s a first btw, I only changed ONE ingredient!!)

Chicken Fried Quinoa (from the cookbook Quinoa 365)
Ingredients:
1 1/3 cup chicken broth
2/3 cup quinoa
non-stick cooking spray
2 large eggs, beaten
2 tbsp sesame oil
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped into tiny cubes
1 clove garlic, minced
3 ribs celery, diced
1 red pepper, diced
3/4 cup frozen peas
3 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup soy sauce

Method:
Get the quinoa going: combine chicken broth & quinoa, bring to a boil.  Lower heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Turn off heat, but keep the pot on the burner for another 6 minutes.  Remove from burner and fluff with a fork – set aside.

While all this quinoa action is going on, do all your chopping prep.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and coat with non-stick cooking spray.  Pour in the beaten eggs and swirl in the pan – cook like you’re making a giant pancake.  I didn’t think this was going to work out because I am the worst at omelettes – but guess what?  It totally worked!  So once it’s set, flip and cook for another minute and a half – remove to a plate or cutting board and cut into thin slices.

I did it!!!!
I just rolled it up and sliced away

In the same pan, heat 1 tbsp of the sesame oil over medium-high heat.  Add chicken and garlic, and cook until browned.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Heat the last tbsp of sesame oil and saute celery for about 4 minutes.  Add the red pepper and peas and cook through, for about another 3 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Add the quinoa, green onions and soy sauce.  Fold in the fried egg ribbons and chicken and cook just to heat through. 

Finito!  Serve right away!!!

Hey! It’s Meatless Monday!  I haven’t eaten meat all day but I have had plenty of protien in my diet!  Did you know that ricotta cheese has one of the highest sources of whey protein out there?  Whey protein is said to be able to enhance bone strength, increase fat burning and elevate antioxidant levels in the body!  For real!  Check out some facts about it at Live Strong website – tres interesting!

So what did I make for dinner?  Grilled paninis with a cheesey ricotta-based filling, laced with garlic and topped with ripe tomatoes and baby spinach… deeeelish.

Tomato Basil Panini
Ingredients:
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
4 cocktail tomatoes, thinly sliced
couple handfuls baby spinach
salt & pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
2 whole wheat paninis

Method:
Heat your panini grill (I use my Gordon Ramsay grill) to medium-high.  In a bowl, combine mozza, ricotta, basil, parmesan, garlic, salt & pepper.  Set aside.

Lightly coat one side of each of the paninis with olive oil, flip over and spread half of each with a couple tablespoons of the cheese mixture.

Layer with tomatoes, then a handful of baby spinach.

Top that off with the rest of your cheeze mixture and carefully fold in half.

Place on your grill and pull down the lid of the grill.  grrrrrrrriiiiiiiilllllll for about 6 or 7 minutes – keep an eye on it though; no need to burn for no reason!

I spied this at the end: “Panini Grillin’ & Thrillin’…”

BTW – I’m not giving up meat… maybe just on Mondays!

I survived the weekend and all the kids had a great time at their tournament!  I was happy to see it all end today though – great committee, just sick of all the Sunday night meetings!!

Anyways, yesterday I was craving those clear vermicelli noodles (aka cellophane noodles) in a spicy sauce.  So I whipped up a really quick asian vinegrette and then topped it off with pan-fried shrimps. You could totally replace the shrimps with any other meat (or tofu if you swing that way!)  It was quick to make, but the kitchen was a disaster afterwards – good thing Todd likes cleaning up after me 😉

Spicy Vermicelli Salad with Shrimp
Salad Ingredients:
1/2 lb shrimp (or other lean meat)
1 tbsp coconut oil
salt & pepper
juice of half a lime
4 clumps of vermicelli noodles
1 large carrot, grated
1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup peanuts, shelled and coarsely chopped

Vinagrette Ingredients:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp rice vinegar
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp sambal oelek
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger

Method:
Place the vermicelli noodles in a large bowl and pour enough boiling water over them to cover.  Let sit for about a minute, then strain – they will seem a little more than “al dente” at this point, but don’t worry about it, they will keep on cooking even when you drain the water.  Rinse with cold water and let drain in a strainer.

Combine all of the vinagrette ingredients in a bowl.  Remove 1/3 cup of the vinagrette and add to the noodles.  Stir and set aside – the noodles will soak up the juice while you’re getting everything else ready.

Chop up the cucumbers & cilantro, grate the carrot, chop the peanuts.  Set the peanuts aside for garnishing the salad.  Mix everything into the noodles and set aside.

In a non-stick frying pan, heat the coconut oil over medium heat.  Pat dry the shrimp and season with salt and pepper.  Add to the hot pan and cook until both sides pink, and a crust starts to form, about 3-4 minutes per side.  When cooked, squeeze the juice of half of a lime into the pan.

Assemble your salad: in serving bowls, top noodles with shrimp, peanuts and more cilantro.  Things I thought of AFTER we were done eating – this salad would have rocked with sliced green onions, fresh basil and fresh mint…. any fresh vegetables would have tasted great too… or serve the noodles on a bed of lettuce… there’s a lot you can do with the noodles/vinagrette combo as a starter – have fun with it!

It’s Friday!  And I’m off work today because Nick’s hockey tournament is this weekend and I am one of the volunteer parents on the organizing committee!  Yeeha!  It’s been a fun road, but I can’t say I’m sad to see this journey end on Sunday – lots o’ work for the mommas and the daddies!!

Since I don’t have to rush to get to work, I thought I would whip up a variation of a pancake recipe that was published in the January Self Magazine and have them ready in the freezer for easy quick breakfasts on the go!  These are really hearty and dense, so you only need a couple to power you up for a morning at the rink!!  Enjoy and have a good weekend!

Banana Nut Pancakes
Ingredients:
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup crushed pecans
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 medium bananas
1 cup almond milk
1 egg
1 tsp almond extract
cooking spray

Method:
Combine the first 5 ingredients in a bowl.

In another bowl, mash one of the bananas and combine with the almond milk, egg and almond extract. 

Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until smooth.  Slice the remaining banana and fold into the batter.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and coat with cooking spray.  Measure 1/4 cup of the batter and spoon into the skillet – flatten it out a bit b/c this batter is pretty thick so doesn’t really ooze out like normal batter would.  Cook your pancakes for about 3 minutes per side, until nice and golden.  I flattened them out more when I flipped them too.

Makes about 9, so enjoy a couple now, then freeze for later!!   They are really nutty and sweet, the almond extract gives them almost a cookie taste – so delish!

Even though it’s supposed to be freaking -50 degrees tomorrow, your Red Deer Foodie is still looking at the brighter side of everything!  For instance, if it wasn’t minus a million out, I wouldn’t have reason to purchase new Ralph Lauren boots with sheepskin lining.  Today I did that.  I wouldn’t be able to wear all my fave toques, mits, leg warmers, scarves, sweaters and all the other cute winter stuff in my closet.  I love winter!  Also, if it wasn’t winter, I wouldn’t receive issues of cooking magazines with pictures of soups on the covers saying things like “keep warm this winter”… ahhh winter. 

Yesterday I received the February issue of my fave Food & Wine and excitedly flipped through, checking out what I could cook NOW without having to buy new groceries!  So super pumped to spy the recipe for Grace Parisi’s Italian Wedding Soup.   Nothing could be easier than this recipe!  Of COURSE I changed it a bit, and I would say it turned out awesome!!

Italian Wedding Soup
Ingredients:
8 cups chicken broth
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 rib celery, finely diced
1/4 cup orzo
1 lb lean ground pork
1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic minced
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
2 cups baby spinach, chopped
1/3 cup fresh basil, sliced into ribbons
1 can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Method:
Bring chicken stock to a boil in a large pot.  Add carrot & celery and continue boiling for another 5 minutes.  Season with salt & pepper.  Add the orzo and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine pork with 1/4 cup of parmesan, the bread crumbs, garlic, salt & pepper.  Form into 1 inch balls.  Drop the balls into the boiling soup and simmer for another 5-10 minutes. 

Stir in the spinach, basil and beans, and simer until everything is cooked through; another 5 or 6 minutes.  Serve with extra parmesan cheese – instant awesomeness.  Stay warm people!!

nom nom nom

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