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Red Deer Foodie

…getting busy in the kitchen!

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(“Kale for Two” is a blog entry I originally wrote for Running with Rhyno – dig around this great blog for some great running stories, and you may learn a bit more about me!)

Kale is touted as one of the world’s “super foods” – chock full of vitamins and antioxidants ready to be absorbed into the human blood stream.  Yes, kale is wonderful, but it is definitely an acquired taste!!  I had a bad run-in with kale a few years ago and I’m not going to lie, it’s taken a lot of time to mourn the loss of that worm I bit in half.

I digress; kale is just one of those things – you like it or you don’t.  I would say the humans in my house are more of the “don’t like” camp, but some recent googling revealed that kale could be a remedy for migraine headaches.  After suffering several days, I main-lined kale in several forms and fashions this past weekend, and guess what? The migraine went away!  It could also have been the T3’s… but I’m no doctor, don’t ask me!

Anyways, I started my kale adventure with Kale Chips – a visit to any paleo blog or website would have you believe that kale chips are the most delicious awesome things ever.  They taste ok – just like salt I guess, they’re digestible, but they make the house smell of farts, so they will never be made in my house again.

Moving on to the main course – I wanted to incorporate it into a couple different dishes and came up with TWO amazing and delicious (not to mention sneaky) ways to ingest this super food.  Please enjoy my newest creations: Kale & Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Balsamic Tomato & Kale Salad.

kale dinner

INGREDIENTS (serves 2):

Kale & Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breasts

2 skinless boneless chicken breasts

1 slice bacon, chopped

1 small shallot, minced

4 mushrooms (dealers choice – plain old white or fancy), chopped small

1 handful of kale, chiffonade (i.e. sliced into fine thin slices)

1 tbsp herb goat cheese

2 tbsp butter

Balsamic Tomato & Kale Salad

2 tbsp olive oil (or your fave oil – hemp seed or avocado oil would rock)

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

¼ tsp each: dried oregano, sea salt & fresh ground pepper

2-3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped

Handful of kale, sliced chiffonade again

METHOD:

Preheat the oven to 375C.  Butterfly the chicken breasts, pat dry and set aside. Fry up the bacon over medium high heat until the fat starts to render; chuck in the shallot and mushrooms.  Cook until shallot is translucent and the mushrooms have released their juices.  Add the kale – cook until the juices are reduced and the kale has wilted a bit.  Transfer to mixing bowl to let cool slightly.

Once the mixture is cool to the touch, add the goat cheese – now here you could put more in if you love it, you could also do another soft ripened cheese – like seriously little chunks of brie would be deadly in there – whatever you have in the house!  Now divide the mixture in half and stuff those chicken breasts.

In the same pan you did the stuffing, melt butter over medium high (again you could use whatever good quality cooking fat you like to use – coconut oil is also a dream in this case.)  Carefully place the stuffed chicken in the pan, top side down first.  Brown each side for about 3-4 mins till you get a nice golden colour.  Transfer to a baking dish and then bake for about 15-20 mins (depending on the thickness of the chicken).  Remove from oven, tent with foil and then let rest for another 5 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking away, get your salad going: combine the vinaigrette ingredients and whisk until it emulsifies.  Add the tomatoes and kale and toss till it’s all coated.  I like to have that sit for a while so that the kale is wilted a bit by the vinaigrette, but if you like the kale more crunchy, don’t toss until right before you’re ready to eat.

And there you have it, fairly easy and I would say definitely done in under an hour – a great weeknight dinner!

Is there such a thing as too many pancakes?  I have posted several recipes for a variety of pancakes on this blog: Rosemary Lemon Pancakes, Coconut Flour Pancakes with Mango Puree, Cottage Cheese Pancakes and Banana Nut Pancakes!  Today I post one more pancake recipe: Ricotta Pancakes with Raspberry Lime Sauce.  I’m beginning to think I should open a Pancake-themed food truck in Red Deer?

Anyways, I freakin LOVE ricotta; I often eat it for breakfast with some fresh fruit and honey – why wouldn’t it kick ass in a pancake?!  I’ve seen a few very similar recipes floating around the interweb, and morphed it into something that utilized ingredients I had kicking around the house.  Give it a try next weekend!

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Ricotta Pancakes Ingredients:

1 cup ricotta

1/2 cup skimmed milk

2 eggs, separated

1/2 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp sea salt

zest of one orange

Raspberry Lime Sauce Ingredients:

1 cup fresh raspberries

1/4 cup agave syrup

2 tbsp cherry jelly (or any other jam/jelly you have in the fridge)

2 tsp fresh orange juice

zest of one lime

dash of salt

Method:

In a large bowl, combine ricotta, milk and egg yolks.  Set egg whites aside for now – don’t forget about them yet though!  Add in the flour, baking powder, salt and orange zest and stir until smooth.  Get back on those egg whites again – whisk them until frothy and then gently fold into the batter.  Set the batter aside while you preheat your griddle to medium.

fold those egg whites in!

fold those egg whites in!

While things are heating up, get your sauce on; combine all ingredients in a medium pot over medium-high heat.  Stir to combine and watch as the berries break down.  Turn the heat down to medium and simmer until the mixture has decreased by about half.  This takes about 10 minutes.  At this point you can pour the sauce through a sieve to get rid of those pesky seeds, but Erin and I decided why throw out anything of the fruit, especially if it added fibre, which is something humans are dying to get into their bodies anyways?

Back to the pancakes… so the griddle (or your largest non stick frying pan) is heated up, your batter has had time to froth up a bit and now it’s go time!  Make pancakes as you normally do, flipping once when the tops are bubbly.  I usually heat my oven to 200 degrees to keep my pancakes in while I’m cooking the rest of the batch.

That’s it – it’s that easy – you can do it too!  I served the pancakes with the raspberry sauce, some lovely bacon and an egg, sunny side up.  A perfect brunch after a long Sunday run!!

 

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The summer continues to fly by and I can’t believe we’re past the middle of August already!  I have been doing tons of cooking and baking, but obviously not a lot of blogging!  I’m going to try and get some of my new creations written down over the next couple of weeks so stay tuned!

Canadian Living Magazine has been busting out some awesome editions lately and this month included a little bonus mag called “Just for Moms” which highlighted some back to school lunchbox recipes.  One recipe for Chewy Quinoa Bars caught my eye because of an ingredient I haven’t tried yet: quinoa flakes!  I found some at Bulk Barn – they aren’t exactly cheap (over $6 for 350g, but it seems like there are many applications for these fluffy things!)  I fooled around with the recipe and came up with something I knew I would like.  A lot.  These have been a big hit at our place and around the office; they are quite filling too!

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Chewy Chocolate Quinoa Bars (adapted from Canadian Living Recipe, Fall 2013)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup quinoa  IMG_0690

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup tahini

1/3 cup liquid honey

1/4 cup vegetable oil or coconut oil

2 tbsp chia seeds

1 1/2 cups large flaked rolled oats

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (in Red Deer, buy at Pure Earth Organics)

1 cup quinoa flakes

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1/2 cup pepitas

3/4 cup chocolate chips

Method:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and prepare a 13×9″ cake pan with baking paper and coat with non-stick spray.

Toast the quinoa (not the flakes!!) in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat, for about 8-10 minutes or until fragrant.  Set aside to cool.

While the toasting is going on, combine the corn syrup, tahini, honey and oil in a medium sauce pan, stirring often until smooth and combined.

In a large bowl, combine the toasted quinoa and quinoa flakes, coconut, pepitas and chia seeds.  Pour in the liquid mixture and stir to combine; at this point add about half of the chocolate chips and stir until melted.  Press the mixture into your prepared cake pan (isn’t it nice being prepared?)  Chuck into the oven for about 20 minutes, until golden brown and fragrant.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle the rest of the chocolate chips on the top, pressing in slightly.  Let cool completely and then shove into the fridge for about half an hour before cutting into bars.

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Here is a super easy dinner that you can whip together in under 30 minutes – perfect for school nights, hockey nights – anytime you have to feed the fam and get them out the door and on to their next “thing”!

It’s inspired by a Martha Stewart Everyday Food recipe for Chicken Philly Cheesesteaks – can someone explain to me why it’s called this? I don’t get the reference to cheesesteaks, b/c there’s no steak in the recipe.  I renamed my version of the recipe so I didn’t have to puzzle over it anymore!  Enjoy!

Chicken & Pepper Torpedos

Ingredients:  

1 lb chicken tenders, sliced thin lenghtwise

1 red and 1 green pepper, seeded and thinly sliced

1 red onion, thinly sliced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, membrane removed and thinly sliced

4-5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

200 g (or about 1/2 cup) mozzarella cheese or provolone cheese 0 cut into strips lengthwise

4 soft submarine buns

2 tbsp vegetable oil

salt & pepper

Method:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and cover a rimmed cookie sheet with tin foil.

Slice the peppers and chicken and spread evenly on the cookie sheet.  Toss with oil and salt and pepper, and put into the oven for about 10 minutes, stirring once about half way through.  The chicken cooks pretty quickly!

Now turn on the broiler and broil until you get some nice char going on the peppers, check every couple of mins, but broil for about 6 minutes total?  Depends on your oven though, so be careful!!

Remove the tray from the oven and toss in the cheese sticks, chuck back into the oven

 under the broiler for another couple of minutes, till the cheese gets nice and bubbly.

Remove from oven and divide the chicken mixture between the sub buns.

 

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I’m finally catching up on a bunch of recipe posts and today I’m sharing this one I made up after Thanksgiving: Chicken Pot Pie!  You could totally make this recipe using a rotisserie chicken, or use left-over turkey after a holiday feast too. I didn’t make a turkey this year for T-giving, because I find it to be such an undertaking considering that no one in my family enjoys dark meat!  So this year, I made a gigantic spatch-cock chicken and a delicious ham in the slowcooker (will post that soon because it’s a gooder).

Chicken Pot Pie

Ingredients:

2 cups chopped cooked chicken (bones and skin removed)

1 – 1 1/2 cups chopped cooked carrots (leftover from a family feast perhaps?)

1 cup frozen peas

3/4 cup chopped celery

3/4 cup chopped white onion

1 3/4 cup chicken broth

1/3 cup milk

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

1/8 tsp Keen’s Mustard Powder

salt & pepper to taste

1 egg, beaten

2 Tenderflake deep-dish frozen pie crusts, slightly thawed *

Method:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Saute celery and onions until soft and translucent.

Sprinkle with the flour and still until coated – careful not to burn.

Add the broth and milk and keep stirring.  The sauce will thicken up and start bubbling.  Add the chicken, peas and carrots and keep stirring.  Add the seasoning – take a taste and add more salt/pepper to your taste!

Pour the filling into one of the pie crusts – you might not be able to fit into the one pie crust so set aside for now.  Top with the other pie crust and crimp around the edges.  Using a knife draw some vents into the top of the crust.  Brush with beaten egg whites.

Chuck this pie into the oven and bake until golden brown – about 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let rest for about 10 minutes before diving in!

*SO WHAT TO DO WITH THE REST OF THE FILLING? I poured it into a tiny tin-foil container, then topped with a piece of Tenderflake puff pastry.  DO NOT put any egg wash on it at this point, but cut the vent slits, cover with a lid and then put into your freezer for another day!

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Who out there has tried quick cooking barley?  What a chewy and filling delight it is!!  I picked some up from The Green Pantry (a wicked online local food connector based out of Lacombe).  Progressive Foods has several recipes on their website and I adapted one of their recipes for “QC Barley Mandarin Salad” and turned it into a smaller yield (only 2 of us to feed that week!).  You know what it tastes exactly like?  You know those raman noodle salads that grannies always bring to family reunions?  So good but full of deep fried fatty noodles, tons of oil etc?  This salad tastes just as good – if not better and is so healthy!!  I also whipped up some quick cedar plank grilled salmon – perfect meal!!  The only thing is, you need to be kind of prepared in the morning b/c the salad needs to marinate all day in the fridge.  (I wasn’t sure how this was going to turn out so  I didn’t document the whole thing with photos!)

Asian Barley Salad  with Cedar Grilled Salmon

Salad Ingredients:

1/2 cup uncooked Quick Cooking Barley 

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup button mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup diced celery

2 tbsp green onion chopped

3 tbsp grapeseed oil

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

salt & pepper to taste

1/2 cup canned mandarin oranges, drained (I used 2 of the individual serving portions)

1/4 cup chopped pecans

1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Method:

Bring chicken broth to a boil and add the barley.  Continue boiling for 1 minute, then cover and simmer for 9 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to stand until all the liquid has been absorbed.  Allow to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the grapeseed oil, soy sauce, sesame oil and salt and pepper.  Add the sliced mushrooms, celery and barley.  Stir to combine.   Chuck in the fridge for the day and then toss with the rest of the ingredients right before dinner!  The reason I do this is b/c I just think that the cilantro and green onions go soggy!

On to the salmon:

Grilled Salmon Marinade Ingredients:

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp sesame oil

2 individual servings (filets)

1 cedar cooking plank

Method:

Combine the brown sugar, soy sauce and sesame oil in a shallow bowl.  Add the salmon and turn to coat – let marinate for about 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, soak the plank in water for about 20-30 minutes.

Heat up the bbq to about 450degrees.  Assemble the salmon on the plank and toss onto the grill – close the lid and don’t open it again for about 10 minutes.  Check it out and see if it’s done to your liking.  Serve with the Asian Barley Salad and you have a pretty awesome dinner!!

 

 

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I haven’t been doing a lot of baking lately, mainly because we are experiencing an unusually hot hot hot summer!  Who wants to turn the damn oven on when it’s already 26degrees in the kitchen?  Barf – not me!!  A rainy patch finally blew through and I was able to blast out some cookies that I found in my favourite cook-book on earth, yep you guessed it Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood!!  I adapted the recipe ever so slightly and just love the cookies that came out!  They are rich and chocolatey – I love biting into the chocolate chips too!  These freeze great and make a nice little treat straight out of the freezer – the 7 year old definitely was down with these cookies – he called them “brownie cookies” and that is as good as a description as any!!  Enjoy!

Gluten Free Double-Chocolate Cookies 

Ingredients:

1 cup softened butter

1 1/2 cup white sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup quinoa flour

1 cup coconut flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350degrees and line cookie sheets with baking paper.  Set aside.  wet to dry; about to get married

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl, then beat in the eggs and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients, then add the dry to the wet and blend well.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Roll the dough into 1 1/4 inch balls, and flatten slightly with your hand or with a spoon (the cookies will flatten slightly as they bake). Bake in the centre of the oven for 8-10 minutes.

The cookies will seem puffy when you remove them from the oven, but they flatten out as they cool.  Let the cookies set on the sheet for at least a minute before removing to cool on a rack.

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