Steak and Goat Cheese Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

By Corinne

I love goat cheese and there is a generous amount of it on this salad – do feel free to cut back to a more reasonable amount. There is a pub in town that serves a delicious goat cheese and steak salad that was definitely my inspiration for this. Making it at home means I can add more cheese and make the dressing exactly how I want it.

Serves: 4 

Time: about 25 minutes – but it depends on how long you let the steaks come to room temperature and how long you let them rest for at the end

You will need:

  • 3 strip loin steaks (you can do one per person if they are particularly small or if you are very hungry – you can also do 2 steaks if you are looking to cut back on the meat portion)
  • Montreal steak spice
  • Worcestershire sauce (gluten free if you use a gf worcestershire – alternatively use balsamic here)
  • 10 oz (284g) salad greens (I used “tender ruby reds”, but spring mix or romaine work as well)
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 small red onion, VERY thinly sliced
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes if desired. Sometimes I feel them, sometimes I don’t.
  • 250g goat cheese (if you can find it, try ‘Celebrity’ brand – it’s one of the best ones I’ve found in a grocery store. If you live in Thunder Bay, you can find it at Maltese)

For the dressing

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar *
  • 1/4 cup olive or canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced or pressed
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • pinch of salt
  • few grinds of fresh pepper

*as I’ve mentioned in other posts, I tend to prefer my dressings more on the vinegar side. The classic oil/vinegar ratio is 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil – feel free to adjust this to taste.

Sprinkle steaks liberally with Montreal steak spice and Worcestershire sauce. Allow to come to room temperature – at least 30 minutes, but 45 if you have time.

Whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside.

Slice peppers and onions and tomatoes if using. Divide salad greens among plates, distribute onions and peppers on top of greens and sprinkle with goat cheese. I find raw onion can be quite strong. Slice it very thin, as thin as you possibly can. Give it a taste, the amount  you use is going to depend very much on the strength of the particular onion.

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Grilling the steaks – preheat bbq for 5-10 minutes. Sear steaks- place on grill for 1 minute, close the lid. Flip and place on the other side for 1 minute. Flip again and cook for 10-15 minutes flipping half way through, depending on desired doneness. If you haven’t tried it,  you should start trying the touch test for doneness.  It’s a more reliable test than purely timing, and once you have it down you’re golden. If you have a meat thermometer, you can use that, but it requires you poking the steaks and losing potential juiciness. Allow steaks to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Divide greens, vegetables and goat cheese between 4 plates. Thinly slice steak and place on salad. Divide dressing between 4 plates. If desired, add a few more chunks of goat cheese on top of the steaks.

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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.

Left-over Chicken Fettuccine In A Light Cream Sauce

The other night I made some delicious Turkish Chicken and have been having a creative food-fest with the leftovers.  Yesterday I made some Chicken Salad and today, pasta!  Yummy, yummy pasta.  I have to start by telling you I don’t really like Alfredo sauce.  I find most of it sweet and rich and too thick.  I have never really had an Alfredo Sauce that made me stop and swoon the way I’ve seen some of my girl friends do.  Hence, I’ve never made it.  This sauce is sort of like Alfredo, but since it doesn’t use heavy cream it is not as sweet and rich and also not as fatty.  You’re very sad, I know.  I like light sauces, I almost always pick a tomato based sauce over a cream sauce, with the exception of some white wine creations which I love.

Don’t have any leftover chicken?  Slice and saute a chicken breast and set aside before starting.

You Will Need

  • 10oz of fettuccine
  • 2 tbsp pasta water
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 cups of sugar snap peas
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3 leftover chicken thighs, chopped
  • 100g of smoked Gouda (or any other favourite)
  • 1 cup of half and half cream
  • salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Prepare pasta as per package directions, reserve 2 tbsp of pasta water, then drain the pasta and set aside.  Heat butter and olive oil over medium heat and add onion and a pinch of salt.  Cook 2 or 3 minutes until softened, add peas and red pepper.  Cook until tender crisp, about 5 minutes, add garlic and cook 1 min more until fragrant.  Add cheese, cream, pasta water and chicken and bring to a simmer. This needs some salt and a generous amount of ground pepper.  Don’t be shy with the pepper, you won’t be sorry.  Add pasta and simmer until slightly thickened.  Serve immediately and garnish additional Parmesan.

 

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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Brie and Apple Salad with Cider Vinegrette

By Corinne

This is one of my favourite salads. It comes together quickly, and even though you bread and fry the cheese (just a little bit and it’s totally worth it) I still think it qualifies as a pretty good post-holiday-gluttony supper.

I absolutely adore pomegranate. It has a reputation of being difficult to peel and messy, but really it’s super simple. I was going to take pictures of how I peel it, but here’s a great video instead. You can even be less finicky with cutting off the top than this person is and it will still pull apart beautifully.

Time: 20 minutes or less – tonight I started this at 6 and we were finished eating at 6:30.

Serves: 4 as a light supper salad (I usually do half of this for just two of us)

You will need:

For the salad

  • 2 small heads of romaine, washed, chopped and dried
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 2 small crisp apples
  • 1 7oz (200g) wheel of double cream brie
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 3-4 tbsp canola for frying

For the dressing

  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 tsp grainy mustard
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (or olive oil if that is your preference, though I find it is sometimes over powering, especially in a salad like this that has rather delicate flavours)
  • several grinds fresh pepper
  • pinch of salt to taste

Whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside.

Chop, rinse, and dry romaine. Open pomegranate and put all of the arils (that’s what you call the little bits you eat!) into a bowl.

Heat 3-4 tbsp of oil in a small frying pan.

Cut brie wheel into eight equal pieces – two will go on each salad.

Whisk one egg in a small bowl and put 3/4 cup of panko crumbs into a pie plate.

Dip each piece of brie into the egg and then into the bread crumbs, pressing them in and coating each side.

When all brie pieces are ready to go, core apples, halve, and thinly slice. You want to wait until now to do this step so your apples don’t brown before you are ready to serve the salad.

Place 4 slices of brie into the pan, they will only take a few seconds on each side for the breading to brown. Remove and drain on paper towel. Repeat with remaining 4 slices.

Arrange salad on plates- romaine, apple slices, handful of pomegranate arils and then top with two pieces of fried brie. Give the dressing another whisk before drizzling on top.

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Caprese Bites

By Corinne

This is one of my favourite apps in the summer when basil is readily available, but if you can find fresh basil and some good looking cherry tomatoes in the winter it makes a pretty, seasonal coloured appetizer for a Christmas party.

Mini San Marzano tomatoes are my favourite variety of cherry tomato. If you happen to come across them, you must buy them. They are SO full of incredible, rich tomato flavour, much like their namesake, the San Marzano tomato.

You can generally find balsamic reduction in most grocery stores these days. I actually didn’t use a reduction for the photo, as I happen to have a good quality balsamic that is fairly thick, though not quite as viscous as a proper balsamic reduction, but it did the trick.

Bocconcini is a mild unripened mozzarella cheese. They come in a variety of sizes, and sometimes you can find them in slices as well. For this recipe, use the mini ones so they don’t overwhelm the tomatoes.

Time: 10 min

Makes: 20-22

You will need:

  • about 20-22 mini bocconcini  (this is usually about how many come in the container)
  • 10-11 cherry tomatoes, preferably mini San Marzano’s if you can find them
  • fresh basil, about 15-20 leaves
  • balsamic reduction
  • fresh ground pepper
  • toothpicks -make sure you use plain and not mint or cinnamon!

Drain mini bocconcini and pat dry with a paper towel. Cut cherry tomatoes in half. If your basil leaves are particularly large, you can halve those as well.

Assemble your caprese bites! Slide one bonconcini onto the toothpick, follow with a leaf of basil, folded in half if desired, and then slide the halved cherry tomato on last, cut side down so they will sit nicely on a plate.

Drizzle with balsamic reduction and a grind of fresh pepper to finish.