Balsamic Chicken and Vegetables

By Corinne

This is a fast, easy weeknight meal that is easily adapted to what you have in your fridge. You an switch up the vegetables to any that you like- for example, snap peas and cauliflower instead of green beans and broccoli. I personally would probably opt out of adding the tbsp of brown sugar- but a slightly sweeter sauce gets better reviews from my favourite taste testers. I know this seems like a lot of balsamic, but between the sweetness added and all of the vegetables, it mellows out and and is not too vinegary.

Serves: 4

Time: about 25 minutes start to finish – though it depends on how you cut your chicken

You will need:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into slices or chunks for faster cooking
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 cups thinly sliced carrots (mine weren’t exactly matchstick, I quartered baby carrots)
  • 2 cups green or yellow beans cut into approximately 1″ pieces
  • 1 red pepper, halved and sliced
  • 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 chili pepper
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic minced or pressed
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Place chicken in a large skillet over medium high heat with a tbsp oil. Season chicken generously with salt and pepper. While chicken is cooking, slice the red onion into half moons. Flip chicken over and add onion to pan.

While chicken and onion are cooking, slice up the rest of the vegetables. By the time you are done, the chicken should be mostly cooked through, though if it’s still pink that’s fine. Whisk together balsamic, honey, brown sugar, garlic, chili pepper and cornstarch and set aside.

If some of your vegetables are in larger pieces (my carrots for example) add them to the pan with the chicken and cover for 3 minutes before adding the more tender vegetables.

Add the rest of the vegetables and cook covered for 3 minutes.

Add the sauce, and cover for 3 minutes. If at the end of 3 minutes, you want the sauce to reduce more, uncover for an additional 1-2 minutes. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Ta da! You’re finished! If desired, sprinkle with some fresh chopped parsley. This is lovely served with rice if you’re into a carb to soak up the extra sauce.

Harissa Chicken Wraps with Hummus

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By Corinne

I am generally not one for buying spice blends, though I do enjoy when my friends visit exotic places and bring them back for me! Harissa is a Tunisian (though variants are found throughout north Africa and the Mediterranean) blend of of chilies, garlic and other spices such as mint. It’s often found as a paste rather than as the dry spice blend and either will work in this recipe. I picked up this Harissa blend on a bit of a whim, though I did receive a cookbook for Christmas that calls for harissa in a few recipes. I made my own wraps for this, but you can certainly use store bought tortillas or pita breads.

Makes: about 6-8 wraps

Time: about 30 minutes, more if you make your own flatbreads

You will need:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • about 1 tbsp of harissa spice blend
  • about 3/4 cup of hummus (mine was very garlicky!)
  • veggies you like- I used sprouts, tomatoes, avocado, cucumber and red onion- other options might include red peppers, lettuce, baby spinach, mushrooms or any other veg you like in a wrap
  • wraps or pitas (I found this was enough chicken to make about 7-8 wraps, but I used a lot of veg in my wraps) I used Homemade Flour Tortillas, but certainly store bought is fine

Sprinkle both sides of chicken with harissa spice. I cut my chicken breasts in half lengthwise as they were fairly thick and I wanted to reduce the cooking time. Set chicken aside and allow to marinate for a bit while you prep any of your veggies you will be using with your wraps.

Add a little oil to pan if necessary. Add chicken to pan and cook for 5-7 minutes on each side.  When chicken is fully cooked, remove from pan and slice into pieces about 1/2 inch thick. Since these wraps are delightful with the chicken warm or cold, you could certainly prep the chicken the day before, and they are awesome for lunch the next day.

To assemble, spread about 2 tbsp of hummus on centre of wrap (or more or less as you like it!) and place chicken and veggies of your choice down the middle. Fold up from the bottom, then wrap both sides around. You can pin it all together with a toothpick.

 

 

 

 

Chipotle Pepper Beef

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By Corinne

This supper is full of some of my favourite flavours. Cilantro  is one of those weird things that people either love or hate. I like cilantro so much that I often eat a sprig or two when I’m prepping it just because it SMELLS SO GOOD! I do find that it doesn’t keep too well in the fridge, so don’t buy it too much in advance, and try to use it up within a few days.

You will need: 

  • 1.5-2 lbs of inside round steak or roast(or other lean cut), sliced very thin
  • 1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • about 1 cup fresh tomatoes (I used cherry this time because it’s what I had. 1-2 roma tomatoes also works well)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1 tsp cumin (preferably toasted and ground)
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (more if you like it spicy) do this with the leftovers
  • 3/4  cup water
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • additional cilantro for garnish

Thinly slice red pepper and set aside. Thinly slice jalapeño into rounds and set aside.

Thinly slice beef. This is sometimes easier if it is partially frozen, so feel free to put it in the freezer for 40 minutes or so before slicing. Add beef to pan with 1 tbsp of oil over medium high heat.

Quarter and thinly slice onion, add to pan with the beef. Cook for 10-15 min.

While beef is cooking, give the cilantro a good rinse as it’s often sandy and give it a rough chop. Reserve some of this for garnish. Use a food processor, blender or hand blender (what I used) to process the ingredients for sauce. Process tomato, water, cumin, cilantro, garlic and chipotle pepper together until you have a fairly smooth sauce.

Add sauce to beef and onion mixture, cover, reduce heat, and allow to simmer for about 35-45 minutes until sauce is thickened and beef is tender.

For the last 10 minutes of cooking, add red pepper strips and cook uncovered for the remaining time. Cook until peppers are tender but still have a good colour.

Serve over avocado lime rice, garnished with jalapeño slices, additional cilantro and a few wedges of fresh lime.

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Avocado Lime Rice

By Corinne

Oh Avocados!

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As the cartoon implies, when you go to buy an avocado, it seems as though they are all either over ripe or hard as rocks. I generally buy them in a bag when the price is right, and of course, they all seem to ripen at exactly the same time, leaving me needing to use up 4-5 avocados in a short amount of time.

This rice is delicious in a wrap, or with Chipotle Pepper Beef.

Time: about 25 min – 5 min prep, 20 minutes cook

Serves: 4 as side

  • 1.5 cups rinsed brown rice
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/4 cup finely minced cilantro
  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced or pressed
  • juice of one lime (if your lime isn’t very juicy, feel free to use two)
  • half a minced jalapeño

Cook rice using your preferred method. I generally use a rice cooker, but just follow your usual method.

While rice is cooking, remove skin and seed from avocado. To do this, run a knife lengthwise along the avocado through the fruit around the seed. Twist halves apart, and use your knife to knock out the seed. I generally cross hatch it with my knife and then use a spoon to scoop out the flesh, but since you are mashing it you can just take it out in one chunk if you like. Discard skin and seed and place flesh in a bowl. I was going to take photos of this process, but sometimes I don’t feel like re-creating the wheel so to speak. There is a lovely diagram of how to cut an avocado here as well as additional information about them.

Juice lime(s) over avocado. Mince about 1/4 cup fresh cilantro and mince or press clove of garlic. Add to avocado. Use a fork to mash together. Season with a pinch of salt.

When rice is cooked, mix together with mashed avocado mixture. Serve hot.

Lemon Pepper Chicken and Blackberry Salad for Two

By Corinne

I adore salads. I know that ‘adore’ seems like a word reserved for kittens and perhaps rich cheesy goodness but I really l do love salads.  I love them making them with fresh greens from my little garden all summer long, but even in the winter between bowls of soup, I still crave crunchy greens. In the summer, salad is our side for almost every meal, but in the winter I tend towards a supper salad, as greens for just a side are not only pricey, but can be hard to get in good condition

The only thing that makes me sad about a supper salad is I generally make them in whatever portion I need them for that supper, so I often don’t have leftover supper salad for lunches.

Time: about 20 minutes

Serves: 2- though easily doubled.

You will need:

  • 1 large head of romaine, washed and chopped
  • 2 mini cucumbers, or half of a regular English cucumber
  • 6 oz (180g) of fresh blackberries
  • 1 cup of finely shredded red cabbage
  • 2 small boneless skinless chicken breasts or 3-4 boneless skinless thighs (what I used in the photo)
  • lemon pepper seasoning

For the dressing:

  • juice from one lemon
  • 3-4 tbsp canola or olive oil
  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 tsp liquid honey
  • 1 tsp grainy mustard
  • few grinds of fresh pepper

Whisk together all dressing ingredients and set aside. This probably makes a bit more dressing than you need for two salads, but better a bit extra than not enough!

Wash and chop lettuce, spin to dry and set aside. Finely chop red cabbage, and mini cucumbers and set aside.

Season both sides of chicken breasts or thighs with lemon pepper seasoning. I like Mom’s Pantry lemon pepper seasoning because it’s quite lemony and has no salt added, but whatever lemon pepper seasoning you like will do.

Heat about a tbsp of canola in a heavy bottomed pan (I used cast iron, but whatever pan you have will work) over medium heat and add chicken to pan. If your chicken is super thick on one end, you can give it a few pounds with a meat tenderizer to even it out a bit for easier cooking. Cooking time will depend on the thickness of the chicken. Cook for about 10-15 minutes until cooked through.

Assemble salads. Divide romaine and place on plates, scatter red cabbage and cucumbers on top. Slice chicken and and top salad with sliced chicken and a generous handful of blackberries. Whisk dressing and drizzle over salad. Eat. Enjoy.

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Creamy Vanilla Whisky

By Corinne

This makes a delightful drink that is creamy without cream, flavoured with vanilla and just a hint of coconut.

After I posted Homemade Irish Cream I had a request for a dairy free version. Now, when making things like this, whether it be gluten free, or dairy free, I don’t want the best part of the recipe to be the absence of the ingredient, but rather I like them to be delicious in their own right. For instance, I prefer the extra chewiness that the chana flour imparts to My Favourite Brownies, so I make them this way whether or not I’m making them for someone who is gluten intolerant.

This one is a little more effort than the Homemade Irish Cream, but if you’re looking for something dairy free, or just something a little different, it’s a win.

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Makes: about 4 1/2 cups or about 1L

Time: about 20 minutes to reduce coconut milk, + cooling time

You will need:

  • 2 cans of full fat coconut milk (2 x 398 mL) or 28oz
  • 2 1/2 cups (20oz) of Wiser’s Vanilla Whisky or other vanilla whisky
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar, but regular will work)
  • 2 tbsp of chocolate syrup
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract

In saucepan or pot, pour contents of two cans of coconut milk and 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Whisk together and bring to a boil. Boil, stirring occasionally, until reduced by about 1/3 or 8oz – this took about 20 minutes for me, but will depend on the surface area of your pan, if you are using a pan or pot with larger surface area, it will take less time, if you are using a regular pot, it will take longer. If you skip this step it will result in a rather watery end product.

Once reduced, remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

Add 2 1/2 cups vanilla whiskey, 2 tbsp chocolate syrup and 1/4 tsp of almond extract to the cooled coconut milk. Whisk together until blended and pour into a container. Keep refrigerated for at least a month- though it’s probably good for much longer but my bottle ends up mysteriously empty sooner. Shake well after being refrigerated.

Enjoy on the rocks or added to coffee.