Sunday, August 22, 2010

Un-Stuffed Pepper Casserole

This is a great option to make if you don't want to spend the time stuffing peppers but still want that stuffed-pepper flavour.  It's easy and pretty quick, and makes a big casserole -- plenty for dinner four four with leftovers.  


1 lb lean ground beef or ground turkey
2-3 green peppers, chopped coarsely
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
750 ml can of  tomato sauce
1 cup cooked rice
1 cup cooked barley (you could use all rice, but we used the 1/2 and 1/2)
1 cup shredded cheese (we used a combo of mozzarella and parmesan)
salt and pepper to taste

  1.  Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Meanwhile, Saute beef with the chopped peppers and garlic until meat is cooked through. 
  3.  Add tomato sauce, cooked rice and barley, and 3/4 cup of cheese.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir to combine.
  4. Spoon into 2-litre casserole dish; top with remaining cheese.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes.
We served it with nothing more than some bread. It was delicious and filling and inexpensive to make.

NOTE:  We also added about 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes from the garden.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Gourmet Dinner for Grandma

I spent some time selecting recipes that I felt would be simple enough for a cooking lesson for the grandsons.  They wanted to cook dinner.  Now, like usual with kids, things didn't always go as planned but here goes . . . 

Baked Chicken Superb

1/2 cup instant potato flakes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup melter butter
1 frying chicken (3-1/2 lb), cut up

On a piece of waxed paper, combine potato flakes and grated cheese.  Melt butter in large shallow baking pan.  Roll each piece of chicken in butter and then in potato flake-cheese mixture.  Place chicken pieces in pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake in 350F oven for about 1 hour.  Serves 4

So I didn't want to buy instant potato flakes, mostly because I don't like them; we used breadcrumbs.  And chickens were expensive, but chicken thighs were on sale at a good price.  Needless to say we bought the chicken thighs.  I skinned the chicken thighs when we got home because I'm not a big fan of chicken skin either.  So, while I think we tried to stay true to the original recipe, we actually may have improved upon it.  Taylor really enjoyed measuring and breading and chatting with me.  I enjoyed it too.

We were originally going to make Orange Carrots.  Maybe another day.  I wanted to make sure they ate the carrots, so I made Candied Carrots instead.  And I knew at least the older two liked cheesy broccoli so that was our second veg.  Candied Carrots are so easy to make, as Austin found out.  He peeled 6 carrots and then used my crinkle-cutter (I don't know what its really called but it makes a wavy cut through the veg which I like and so do the boys) to slice the carrots.  When they were cooked we added a couple of spoonfuls of butter and a couple of spoonfuls of brown sugar and tossed.  Simple.  I decided to keep the cheese sauce simple so opted to buy a packaged mix.  I think the reason Austin chose to do the veggies is because he likes using the peeling knife and crinkle-cutter.  

The Basmatti rice was cooked in my rice steamer.

Cameron made the brownies from a mix.  He stirred it well and then we poured it into a cake pan to bake.  I think Cameron chose to make the dessert so he could lick the spoon.  To finish up the brownie sundaes we placed a brownie in each dish, added a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, a big scoop of marshmallow creme and, of course, topped it all with chocolate sprinkles.

The entire meal was delicious.  I will definitely be using this chicken recipe again.  The chicken was crispy outside and so tender inside!  The veggies were very colourful and tasty.  And the dessert was the crowning glory of the meal.

I have to admit that I just made another sundae to eat with my tea tonight . . . LOL

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pizza Pot Pies

Made these for supper tonight.  Super easy and super delicious!  Next time we make them we are going to customize them with different filling items.  Suggestions were red peppers, pepperoni, meatballs......


Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh minced rosemary leaves
  • 2 ounces diced pancetta
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pizza Pot Pies:

  • 3 cups Tomato Sauce
  • 2 cups diced roasted chicken
  • 2 cups broccoli cut into small, bite-sized pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups diced mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds pizza dough  **Homemade or store-bought, whichever you prefer/have time for/can muster the energy for
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan
**Note that the recipe calls for six 10-ounce ramekins.  We didn't have those, so we used small French onion soup bowls. They worked perfectly! 


For the Tomato Sauce: Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, rosemary, and pancetta. Saute until the pancetta is crisp and golden, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, stir to combine, and simmer over very low heat for 15 minutes. Add the salt and pepper. Set aside.

**  We already had some tomato sauce in the fridge waiting to be used, so we used it instead of making this one, and it was good.  

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl combine the Tomato Sauce, chicken, broccoli, mozzarella, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Divide the chicken mixture evenly between the ramekins. Roll out the pizza dough and cut circles with a pairing knife that are 1-inch wider in diameter than the ramekins. Place the circles of dough over the filled ramekins and press down to seal, making sure to pull the dough over the edge of the ramekin. Brush the top of the pizza dough with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cut a small slit in the top of the pizza dough with a pairing knife. Bake until the pizza crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving.

The recipe says it makes six if you use the ramekins, but we only got four good-sized soup bowls full.  Hubby and I each ate one and our daugther (preschool age) was served half.  Note that these are VERY HOT when you take them out.  There will be a rush of steam when you cut into the crust.  If you are serving to young children, you may be wise to (as we did) scoop out their portion into a bowl or onto a plate and cool it in the fridge for a few minutes before serving.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Chickpea and Pasta Soup

1-1/3 cup chickpeas or Garbanzo beans (dried), soaked in water overnight, then drained
1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
2-1/2 slices bacon, chopped
1 potato, peeled, whole
3 cups Swiss Chard or spinach, cut into 2-3 pieces
4 tsp olive oil
2-1/2 cups water to cook chickpeas
1 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups water to cook the pasta
1/2 cup mezzi tubetti (pasta for soups)
6 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated

Prepare the vegetables : coarsely chop the onion; peel the potatoes, leaving them whole; cut the Swiss chard into 2 or 3 pieces (if using spinach, leave them whole). Set aside.
Heat the oil in a pot over medium-low heat. Add the onion and bacon, then sauté 3-4 min, with occasional stirring. Add the chickpeas and potatoes, then cook 1-2 min with stirring. Pour in the water, broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, about 45 min, until the chickpeas are softened, but al dente (if overcooked, the chickpeas do not fall apart as other legumes, but become "pasty"). If using a pressure cooker, the cooking time is reduced to 12-15 min.
Take the potatoes and about 2 ladles of chickpeas out of the pot and put them in a blender or in a food-mill. Purée the mixture, then put it back into the pot with the soup.
While the chickpeas are cooking, blanch the Swiss chard 4-5 min in a pot of salted boiling water. If using spinach, cook them 3-4 min without adding any water: the water trapped in the leaves after washing them is enough to cook the spinach. Drain the Swiss chard or spinach using a colander, press to remove excess water, then chop them and add them to the chickpea pot.
Cook an additional 2-3 min over medium-high heat, with occasional stirring: the chickpea soup is ready and may be set aside in the refrigerator or freezer for later use.
When ready to serve, pour the soup into a saucepan or pot, add about ¼ cup (65 ml) of water per serving and bring to a boil. Add about 1½ tablespoons (10 g) of pasta per serving, cover, and cook about 6-7 min, over low heat. Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and serve.
Makes 6 servings.

Hal & I REALLY enjoyed this soup.  It was similar to a bean and bacon soup only not nearly as heavy tasting.  Lots of flavour.

Strawberry Ice Cream

Strawberry Ice Cream

1-2/3 cups strawberries
1/2 cup strawberry jam
1 cup whipping cream 35%

Prepare the mold (I used a loaf pan) by lining it with aluminum foil. Let some foil protrude over the edge to help unmold the ice cream «block» when ready.

Hull the strawberries, halve them lengthwise, then put them in a blender.  Add the strawberry jam and mix at maximum speed until a smooth consistency is obtained. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and set aside.  

In another bowl, using an electric mixer, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Add the whipped cream to the large bowl and fold it into the strawberry mixture using a spatula.  

Pour the cream-strawberry mixture into the prepared mould. Wrap it with aluminum foil and freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight.

About 20-30 min before you are ready to serve, unmold the whole ice cream onto a plate and let it sit for a while at room temperature to allow the ice cream to be softer and tastier when serving. Alternatively, cut out the slices and put them onto individual plates. Return any unused part back into the freezer and let the individual slices sit in the refrigerator for a while (not at room temperature since they will melt faster than the whole block). If desired, you may garnish the ice cream with a few berries.

Makes 10 servings

This very simple dessert was definitely enjoyed.  I added some fresh sugared strawberries and chocolate sprinkles to each serving.