Caprese Chicken with Balsamic and Red Quinoa

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By Corinne

Summer is the season for tomatoes and basil and caprese everything! While we are heading into fall here, my basil plants growing out on my deck are still doing well, though I think this meal will probably be the last harvest I get from them.

Chicken breasts these days seem obscenely large. If you’re using gigantic ones, half is certainly enough for a serving.

Time: 30 min or less

You will need:

  • 1C red quinoa
  • 2C chicken or vegetable broth or bouillon
  • 2 large chicken breasts, halved, or 4 small chicken breasts
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 3C cherry tomatoes halved
  • 3 cloves garlic minced or pressed
  • 1/2- 3/4C balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
  • 4 generous slices of mozzarella

Thoroughly rinse quinoa and add to a medium pot with 2 cups of the broth of your choice. While quinoa is regularly touted as a super food, it’s also super bland, so don’t just cook it in water! Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. It will take about 20 min to cook. Stir occasionally. It’s finished when all liquid is absorbed.

If your chicken breasts are quite large, hold flat on a cutting board with your non-knife hand. Using a sharp knife, slice horizontally into two even pieces.

Place chicken breasts in a large frying or sauce pan that you have a lid for. If you don’t have one with a lid, you can probably cheat and place a dinner plate over top. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, 1/2 tsp dried basil, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes. Cook over medium heat 6-7 minutes on each side until cooked through, then remove from pan.

While chicken is cooking, halve cherry tomatoes. After chicken has been removed from pan, add the cherry tomatoes. Cook for 2 minutes until tomatoes have just begun to soften. Add the 1/4 C chopped fresh basil, 3 cloves of minced garlic, and 3/4C balsamic. Stir for an addition 1-2 minutes.

Add the chicken breasts back to pan, and place mozzarella on top. Cover pan with lid or plate for 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted.

Divide quinoa between 4 plates. Top each with a generous amount of tomatoes and sauce and then with one of the cheesy chicken breasts. Top with additional basil for garnish if desired.

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Summer Garden Pesto Stirfry

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By Corinne

This is a bit of a garden miscellany recipe that will work with whatever fresh veggies you have, in basically any amounts that you have them! Don’t have snow peas? Use snap peas instead. No chard? Try kale or spinach. No garlic scapes? Use some fresh garlic at the end- or if your pesto is quite garlicky, pass on the garlic altogether! You can serve it on it’s own finished with a drizzle of balsamic as a side dish, served on top of rice, or mixed into pasta.

 

Time: about 15 minutes

You will need: some mix of the following, though substitute according to availability!

  • about 10 oz, 300g cherry tomatoes *
  • 3-5 leaves of chard
  • small/medium zucchini
  • 1 cup of snow peas
  • a few garlic scapes if you have them!
  • 2-4 tbsp of your favourite jarred pesto
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated asiago or parm
  • drizzle of good quality balsamic to finish
  • 1 tbsp of canola, olive oil or butter
  • rice or pasta for serving if desired

If making rice- prepare first.

Add oil to large pan on medium/high heat. Chop zucchini into thin rounds or half moons. If the peas you are using are large, you can halve them, otherwise leave them whole. Trim flower end from garlic scapes if it seems tough or dry, then give a quick chop into small pieces. Thinly slice chard. Add vegetables to pan in the following approximate order, giving them a minute or two in the hot pan before adding the next ingredient. First tomatoes, then peas, followed by zucchini. When these veg are getting hot and a bit softened and maybe browned, add the scapes. When veggies are done to your taste- I like things more crisp, but to each his own so cook accordingly, add a few tbsp of your favourite pesto and stir until all veg are covered. Add the chard and cook 1-2 more minutes until still bright but softened.

Finish by adding the fresh grated cheese and a drizzle of balsamic.

*note- if your cherry tomatoes haven’t ‘burst’ while cooking (which is fine) be careful when you eat them as they will be hot juicy tomato bombs if you pop them into your mouth whole!

Cherry Clafoutis

 

20170704_121119By Corinne

What is clafoutis? It’s traditionally a French dessert (but I love it for breakfast!). I don’t even know how to properly describe it- it’s somewhat like a custardy dense cake that’s full of delicious fruit. In any case, it whips together so quickly that you can have it ready to go by the time your oven is preheated.

Clafoutis is one of those magical dishes that can work for either breakfast or dessert. If you want to finish it with some powdered sugar, or even some whipped cream, or ice cream to make it dessert then go for it! I tend to make it for breakfast, and because I am impatient and hungry I’ve almost always eaten it hot right out of the oven, though traditionally it’s served room temperature or chilled.

Speaking of tradish, if you want to not pit your cherries, that’s actually the traditional way to make a cherry clafoutis. I’ve done it both ways, apparently leaving the pits in is supposed to impart a subtle almond flavour, but I’ve never noticed a difference and prefer to pit my cherries even though it’s a little more prep. Totally up to you!

Serves: 4 for breakfast, 8 for dessert

Time: prep/preheat 10 min(400F), bake 25-35 min depending on baking dish used.

You will need:

  • generous 2 cups of cherries, pitted or not as you wish 🙂
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp melted butter, cooled slightly, plus more to butter dish
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp spiced rum or amaretto

Preheat oven to 400F. Butter a 9-10 inch glass pie plate, or stoneware pie plate (what I used in the pictures) or a cast iron skillet. Baking time will depend on what dish you use- and whether it’s nine or ten inches. I find using a glass pie plate only takes 25 min, while using my stoneware pie plate takes 35 min.

Pit your cherries if you wish, and put them in the buttered dish.

Melt butter in microwave and set aside. For the rest of the instructions you can either whisk by hand or use a mixer, I do either depending on how I’m feeling that day :). Whisk 3 eggs and 1/2 cup sugar until thoroughly combined. Then gradually add the butter, whisking until it’s incorporated. Add the flour and salt and mix until combined. Finally, add the tbsp of spiced rum. The batter should be very smooth.

Pour the batter over the cherries and pop into the oven. Check at 25 min. Give the pan a little jiggle, if your clafoutis wobbles give it some more time. When it’s finished it should be slightly browned and almost set in the middle. By almost set, I mean when you give the pan a shake there should only be a little wobble in the very middle. If you find it’s browning too much on top, throw a piece of tinfoil lightly over the top until it’s finished.

Serve room temperature or chilled, or hot out of the oven if you just can’t wait 🙂

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.