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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Dinosaur Egg Chicken

Unfortunately I have to start off this post by telling everyone that I am a moron (As if everyone doesn't already know)! In my last post, I thought I had a brilliant spur of the moment idea for a contest.... one that would send all my readers scouring through my archives, reading all my old recipes looking for that elusive can of soup. Well, I had my winner exactly 2 minutes and 42 seconds after I published the ill-fated post. AND, as I discovered, any enterprizing individual who wanted to go to Google and type in "Janet is Hungry can of soup" would have had the results returned to them in 0.23 seconds.

Mario sent me an e-mail: "Sweetheart, you might want to think your contests through a little better in future"... yeah thanks, hon. But its OK, I think I just ran my first and last contest on Janet is Hungry. (Don't quote me on that, I'm a notorious liar).

So without further ado, first prize of my favorite cookbook goes to Deeeeeeena who writes the blog, Miche Mache. (Deeeeeena send me an e-mail using the "Contact Me" button with your mailing address).

An honourable mention goes to Suzanne, a coworker of mine, who found BOTH recipes that use canned soup. Pork Chop and Rice Bake and Chili.

Today's recipe is one that I have been meaning to try for a long time. I've seen this prepared several times before. The recipe that I used came from Laura Calder.

Although the skin doesn't crisp up at all, the meat of the chicken stays so moist and juicy and the flavours from the fresh herbs really penetrate. My kids actually did think I'd cooked a dinosaur egg... they were gathered around me in a sort of "hushed awe" when Mario and I were cracking it open (those are HIS hand in the picture for anyone who thought I might have "Man-Hands"). I think the kids were actually expecting a baby dinosaur to pop out... boy were they disappointed when it was only a chicken. Yet still confused... Claire: "Um, so do you think it was the Mommy or the Daddy that was a chicken"...

Dinosaur Egg Chicken

3lb whole chicken
Fresh herbs (I used rosemary and thyme)
4 - 5 garlic cloves, minced
pepper to season
A drizzle of olive oil

Salt Crust:
4 cups flour
6 egg whites
500g coarse salt (about 2 cups)
1 egg yolk

1. Slide plenty of herbs under the chicken skin. Put garlic in the cavity, along with any remaining herbs. Rub the chicken with pepper and olive oil.

2. Make the crust: mix the flour, egg whites and salt well, then add enough water to make a pliable dough (the consistency of play-doh).

3. Roll out 1/4 the dough to make a base for the chicken to sit on. Set the dough base on a baking sheet. Lay the chicken on top. Roll out the remaining dough, drape it over the chicken, and seal the edges. Becareful to patch any holes or rips. Add a splash of water to an egg yolk and paint the pastry case all over.

4. Bake for 1 1/2 hours at 325ºF. Let the chicken sit out of the oven 10 minutes before serving.

5. Cut off the crust and discard it. Carve the meat and serve.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Pork Chops and Stuffing

This is yet another old favorite of mine. I love the way the pork comes out so tender... it's just like cutting butter with a knife!

I may have gotten a little carried away with the massive pile of stuffing on top of the pork chop. I just love the stuffing and I guess my eyes were a little bigger than my stomach (as usual). I had extra breadcrumbs so I made more stuffing than the recipe called for and I split it between 3 pork chops instead of 4.

I actually don't often cook with cans of soup. I would usually prefer to make my own creamy sauce for a recipe that calls for a can of soup. If you go back through the near 200 recipes I have on this site... you will only find ONE other recipe (I think)that calls for a can of soup. Can somebody please find it and report back to me?

Actually, this is a perfect opportunity to kick off the first CONTEST on Janet is Hungry. The first Janet is Hungry reader to locate another recipe on my site that calls for a can of soup and leave it in the comment section wins a PRIZE. The prize will be a copy of one of my favorite cookbooks! I will announce the winner in my post tomorrow (if anyone bothers)...

Pork Chops with Stuffing

4 pork chops
1 tbsp oil
3 cups soft bread crumbs
3 tbsp dried summer savory
1/2 onion, chopped fine
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup water
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 can of water

1. Brown pork chops in oil for a few minutes on each side. Place pork chops in a greased casserole dish that has a cover.

2. In a large bowl, mix breadcrumbs and summer savory. Melt butter in the microwave with the onion. Stir into breadcrumbs. Add water to breadcrumbs.

3. Form breadcrumbs into a ball. Or press into a mold (I used a 3/4 cup measuring cup... but a 1/2 cup or 1/3 cup measuring cup would give you a more reasonable portion of stuffing). Place a ball of stuffing on top of each pork chop.

4. Mix soup with 1/2 a can of water and pour over pork chops and stuffing. Bake for 1 hour at 350F. This is really good served with rice, because you can use some of the extra sauce on the rice.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Apple Cheesecake Squares

It's that time of year when I start buying tons of apples, thinking I am going to make all kinds of goodies.... apple pie, apple crumble, apple dumplings... and I almost never do. But then I was watching Paula Deen on the Food Network ("Hey y'all") and I saw her make this recipe. I had everything in the house, so I literally jumped up from the couch and started baking.

Wow. Was this good. I decided to serve it with a maple cream sauce that I saw over on The Pioneerwoman Cooks. The sauce is wicked! I have a ton of sauce leftover, and I am planning on serving it on the weekend with French Toast. I think that will be heavenly.

The kids aren't huge fans of cheesecake, they find it "sour". So, after Mario and I sampled our piece, or two (or four) I brought the rest into work. I cut them smaller like cheesecake bars for work.

Apple Cheesecake Squares with Maple Cream Sauce

2 cups flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tbsp sugar

Streusel Topping:
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup butter, softened

Maple Cream Sauce:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
5 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp light corn syrup

1. Make Maple Cream Sauce: Combine all ingredients in a heavy sauce pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened and reduced by about 1/3. (about 15 minutes). Chill.

2. For Cheesecake squares: In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Press evenly into a 13x9-inch baking pan.

3. Bake 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

4. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Beat in 1/2 cup sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Pour over warm crust.

5. In a small bowl, stir together chopped apples, 2 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spoon evenly over cream cheese mixture.

6. To make Streusel Topping, cut together the flour, brown sugar and butter, stir in oats until all crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over apples. Bake 30 minutes at 350F or until filling is set.

5. Drizzle with Maple Cream Sauce.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Italian Salad

I had my Mom and Dad over for dinner on Sunday night. I wanted to make homemade Gnocchi for them, since my Mom has never tried it before. I have made this Gnocchi recipe 5 times since my friend, Roger, taught me how. It is so easy to make and so so good. The last time I made it, I made way too much, and before I boiled the Gnocchi I flash froze them, now I have a huge Ziploc bag of homemade Gnocchi in the freezer, just ready to be dumped into some boiling water for a few minutes. GENIUS!! (if I do, say so myself).

Anyway, enough about the Gnocchi, this post is supposed to be about the salad. I didn't feel like making a Caesar salad to go with this. It just seems like I am ALWAYS making Caesar salad. But, I wanted something that complimented the meal. So, I went on Google and typed in "Italian Salad"...I found this recipe on Epicurious. It was so unbelievably good! It was perfect and this one is "recipe file worthy".

I made a couple of small changes to the recipe (because I can't help myself... I like to meddle). I even wanted to change the name of the salad because "Italian Salad" just doesn't sound that sexy. But unfortunately my creative juices aren't running today and the only name I can come up with for the salad is.... "Chopped Salad with Garbanzo beans, Red Pepper, Red Onion and Fennel garnished with Proscuitto, Black Olives and Goat Cheese, in a garlic oregano Vinagrette, seasoned with Salt and Pepper"

Italian Salad

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 large garlic clove, minced
8 cups chopped lettuce (mixture of romaine and leafy)
1 19 oz can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup very thinly sliced red onion
1 cup very thinly sliced fresh fennel bulb
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese (about 3 ounces)
2 ounces thinly sliced proscuitto cut into strips
1/4 cup sliced pitted black olives
salt and pepper

1. In a bottle, let the minced garlic sit in the olive oil for a few hours. When ready to mix the salad add the white wine vinegar and oregano. Close the bottle and shake well.

2. In a large bowl add chopped lettuces, garbanzo beans, red pepper, red onion and fennel. Toss with salad dressing and season.

3. Sprinkle olives, goat cheese and proscuitto on top.

Spaghetti Carbonara

I was inspired to make this dinner after watching an episode of Everyday Italian on the Food Network last week. Giada made a lovely looking Linguini Carbonara with a fried egg on top. I loved the idea of the egg, but I think I made too many other changes to the recipe, to really claim that this is her recipe. Giada's version had fresh basil and asparagus. Mine has bacon and oregano.

Everyone loved this dinner, even the kids. I do have a "lighter" version of Spaghetti Carbonara that I have been making for years. It uses a can of 2% evaporated milk for the sauce (I will post that one sometime). The "light version" is very good, but frankly, this one just blows it away.

But, if you are counting your calories, or watching your fat intake.... CLOSE YOUR BROWSER NOW and run! Run very very fast ... all the way to your treadmill. Then hop on and run some more (about 3 hours should do it). Only then can you come back and make this dinner.

Spaghetti Carbonara

Garlic Aioli:
2 egg yolks
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic
1 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup canola oil
salt and pepper to taste

12 oz spaghetti
4 eggs
2 tbsp butter
8 slices bacon
Parmesan cheese

1. Prepare Aioli. In a food processor, or with a hand blender. Add in the egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, and oregano. If using a food processor turn it on, and add oils - canola first - in a slow stream. If using a hand blender, you can add the oils all at once, and then blend them up. Season and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, cook the bacon slices and boil pasta in salted water.

3. Fry the eggs, sunny side up in 2 tbsp of butter. Season with salt and pepper.

4. To assemble, toss cooked pasta in aioli (just enough to coat the pasta - I only used half). Arrange pasta on plates, top with 2 slices of bacon, a fried egg and some shaved parmesan. Make sure you serve this with a salad, because this recipe is a little light on veggies!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mud Pies

This was a favorite of mine growing up, and was a recipe that my Grandmother used to make. I haven't made them in a while, but my Mom recently reminded me about them. Apparently one of my cousins, who lives in Ireland and reads my blog, asked my Mom if I was going to post "Grandma's Mud Pie's".

Well of course I am, Susan!

The reason I don't make these as often as I like has a lot to do with the fact that Mario hates coconut. I usually try to make sweets where I can sample one or two and then leave it up to him to polish off the rest. Well he won't touch a mud pie! I think I am going to try to make them again, but find something to replace the coconut... maybe some graham cracker crumbs? or chopped nuts? I'd welcome suggestions...

Another interesting little tidbit... when I pulled out my battered and beaten recipe card to make these, I noticed that my Mom had written, "Mrs. Pearson's Mud Pies". Well who the heck is Mrs. Pearson? Apparently, my Grandmother clipped this recipe out of the Newfoundland Telegram many many years ago, and Mrs. Pearson would be the wife of former Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson.

Mud Pies

2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup shortening
5 tbsp cocoa
1 cup fine coconut
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups quick cooking oats

1. In a saucepan, stir together the sugar, milk, shortening, cocoa, salt and vanilla. Bring to a boil and remove from heat at once.

2. Add oats and coconut. Stir well.

3. Cool a bit and drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheets lined with waxed paper. Chill until set.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Mixed Nut Bars

Does anyone else buy those big bags of mixed cracking nuts during the holidays and eat only a few? Actually, I usually end up left with a big bowl of everything but walnuts, since my father-in-law will come over and systematically pick out all of the walnuts (he has learned to just ignore my dirty looks).

Well here is a recipe that I discovered LAST YEAR to use up the leftover mixed nuts (or you could just do like my Mom and put them away and bring them out again the next Christmas.... ** eat the mixed nuts at my Mom's house at your own risk **)

Well, speaking of OLD NUTS (no not you Mom), these are the mixed nut bars that I made with the 2006 Christmas leftover nuts. I made them in January (before I started my blog). I sent some to Mario's work, kept some out for the kids, and put some in the freezer. I found them yesterday at the bottom. I'm really scared about what else might be down there, so I stopped looking after I discovered the mixed nut bars.

But at least now, I can report with confidence, that this recipe freezes well!

Back when I made these, I actually sat down and figured out the nutritional information per serving. It was a little shocking, so I destroyed it. Luckily, I have a good memory for these types of things, and I believe these were fat free!

Mixed Nut Bars

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 cup mixed nuts (measure after you remove the shells)
3/4 cup corn syrup
3 tbsp butter
1 cup butterscotch chips
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter

1. With a pastry blender, cut together the flour, icing sugar, and 1/2 cup butter. Press into an un-greased 9" x 13" pan. Bake 12 minutes at 350F.

2. Sprinkle nuts over crust.

3. In saucepan, melt 3 tbsp butter, butterscotch chips, and corn syrup. Pour over nuts. Bake 5 more minutes at 350F.

4. In another saucepan, melt chocolate chips and peanut butter. Spread over bars. Let stand until cool and cut into small rectangles (or big if you want, I don't care).

Friday, October 19, 2007

Baked Zucchini Coins

If you love to order deep fried zucchini sticks in restaurants, then you will LOVE this healthier at home version. You won't even be able to tell they aren't deep fried!

This is the first time I made these at home, and I honestly thought for sure that the kids would love them. Silly me. Normally, I would have "fried" zucchini as an appetizer, but I decided to just serve it as a side dish with some steak and roasted potatoes wedges. We really enjoyed it.

Baked Zucchini Coins

1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil
freshly ground pepper
1 zucchini
1 egg
olive oil

1. Mix flour, cornmeal, salt, basil and pepper on a plate.

2. Beat egg in a small bowl.

3. Slice zucchini into 1/4" thick coins (you can do sticks, but its easier to brown them more evenly in the over if they are coins because you only have to flip them once).

4. Dip zucchini into egg and then into cornmeal mixture.

5. Coat a parchment lined cookie sheet with a couple of tablespoons of oiive oil. Arrange zucchini coins on cookie sheet and back at 425 for about 10 minutes per side, until golden brown.

6. Serve with bottled blue cheese or ranch dressing.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Tortiere is a very traditional dish around this area, and particularily in Quebec. There are several different variations of tortiere. The most common, I believe, is a mixture of ground pork, with onion, celery and seasonings, but some tortieres use a mixture of beef and pork or chunks of meat rather than ground meat.

This is my favorite version of the recipe. Mario's family is French Canadian, and his Mom makes tortiere often. I like mine better and finally, after years of nagging and threatening, I actually got Mario to admit that he likes mine better too, but shhhh.... don't tell his Mom!

This is a major favorite with the kids too. But really what's not to like about ground pork and pastry? I always serve my tortiere with some steamed vegetables and pickled beets.


Double 9" Pie Crust:

2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup vegetable shortening
5-6 tbsp cold water

Meat Filling:

1 1/2 lbs ground pork
1 onion, chopped fine
1/4 cup celery, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground summer savory
1/3 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp allspice
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup water
1 small potato, boiled and mashed
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp milk

1. Prepare pastry: Cut cold shortening into cubes (TIP: In my pastry I always use a mixture of butter - for flavour, and shortening - for flakiness). Place butter/shortening in food processor with flour and salt. Pulse a few times.

2. Dump flour mixture out into a bowl and start adding water a tbsp at a time until mixture forms a dough that will hold together. Wrap with plastic wrap and refridgerate for about 30 minutes.

3. Make filling: In a non-stick skillet with a cover, cook pork, breaking up the larger chunks.

4. Add onion, celery, garlic and cook until the onions are tender.

5. Add salt, savory, pepper, allspice, bay leaf and water. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove lid and simmer 5 more minutes until most of the water is gone (it should still be quite moist).

6. Add mashed potato and remove bay leaf.

7. Roll out pastry (TIP: I roll my pastry out between two sheets of plastic wrap, when it is the right size, peel one sheet away and use the other to pick up the pastry and flip it over into the pie plate). Fill with meat mixture, cover with second half of pastry and seal edges. Cut a few vents in the top.

8. Brush top with a mixture of egg yolk and milk.

9. Bake at 425F for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Calamari with Red Wine and Tomato Sauce

I had a pound of frozen squid rings in the freezer, they've been on my mind for the last week or so as I really couldn't decide how to prepare them. What I WANTED to do with them was bread them and deep fry them, but in the end, I was a good girl and I made this tomato based recipe instead.

It was pretty good, and the kids ate it well. Even the squid. When they asked what it was, I just said "calamari" which sounds a lot more palatable to an 8 year old than "squid". They both ate it up. About halfway through dinner, Claire asked, "Is calamari a fish?" Actually, it is a mollusk (related to the Octopus) but I didn't think that would go over too well, so I just said, "yup, it's fish". Claire thought about it then said, "how did you get the fish into little circles?"

....well, I am just a REALLY good cook!!

Calamari with Red Wine and Tomato Sauce

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb squid rings
1/4 cup flour
2 tbsp olive oil
lemon wedges
Rice or Pasta

1. For the sauce, saute onion and garlic in 1 tbsp olive oil until soft. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, cinnamon, bay leaf and salt and pepper. Simmer for about an hour.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the rice or pasta.

3. When everything is ready, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat in a non-stick skillet. Dredge squid rings in 1/4 cup flour, and saute in oil for about 3-5 minutes until cooked through.

4. Serve rice/pasta with sauce and topped with squid. Garnish with lemon.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Mushroom Tarts

Last night I decided to make some fancy appetizers before dinner. There was no big special occasion, it was just sort of a, "oh my GOD, I have nothing to post tomorrow" sort of occasion. Although, I sold it to Mario as more of a, "I made you a special treat because your the best-est Husband in the whole world (I bought some new shoes)" sort of occasion.

I have always had an special bond with mushroom tarts. In fact way back when Mario and I were first dating, his Mom happened to make some, and I exclaimed, "Oh mushroom tarts, my FAVORITE"... well, they aren't truly my favorite, not in the Poutine sort of sense, but I do really like them a lot. Anyway, since then, Mario's Mom continues to make mushroom tarts for me all the time. So much so, that there is really no need for me to make them at home, and thus it's been years and years since I have pulled out this recipe and made it. The first thing I noticed was... they aren't as good as Mario's Mom's. I think that I like my pastry better, but her filling is the BOMB. So now I'm going to have to do some reconnaisance to figure out what she does differently.

In the meantime while I am busy with my spy work, if you are hankerin' for some mushroom tarts, these ones are a fine substitute!

Oh, and because I always like to write a sentence or two about the official reaction of "the offspring"... Claire and Marco were out in the yard raking (e.g. jumping in) leaves when I served these. I brought a couple out to the back door for them to eat outside. A few minutes later, Mario goes to look out the window... "looks like your tarts are really popular with the seagulls"...

Mushroom Tarts
makes 12 mini tarts

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, diced
1/2 cup cream cheese, diced

1 tbsp butter
8 oz fresh mushrooms, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped green onion
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a food processor, mix together all the ingredients for the pastry. Form into a ball, wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a non-stick skillet, saute mushrooms and garlic in butter until soft and most of the liquid is evaporated. Add cream, lemon juice, green onion and parsley. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Season to taste.

3. Remove pastry from fridge. It will be a little to soft for rolling, so break off 1" balls, flatten them with the palm of your hand, and press them into the tart tins.

4. Fill each pastry shell with mushroom mixture and bake at 400F for 20 minutes until golden brown.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Crunchy Chicken Drumsticks

My kids just adore shake'n bake chicken (who doesn't?). So, I often make it for them when a quick and easy dinner is in order. One night last week, I just had no idea what else to make, and so I decided shake'n bake for the whole family this time. Of course, when I got home and checked the cupboard, I was all out.

No problem, I'm a resourceful Mom.... I just whipped up some homemade shake'n bake. Now I wasn't trying to replicate the flavour exactly. I mostly just wanted to get a nice crunchy coating on the chicken.

Of course, I went to all this trouble and Claire and Marco didn't like the crust. They made me peel all the skin off and they just ate the chicken. People must read my blog, and think to themselves, "that POOR POOR woman, why does she even bother?" I know it sounds like my kids never like ANYTHING, but overall I'd say they are less picky than I was at the same age. And in their defense, they have a crazy food obsessed Mom, who is always trying weird new recipes. They barely ever get to eat plain old spaghetti or meatloaf...

Crunchy Chicken Drumsticks

1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
1 cup peanuts, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
8 chicken drumsticks
1 egg, beaten

1. Mix together the breadcrumbs, nuts, pepper and cilantro (I did this in a food processor to get a fine chop).

2. Dip the chicken drumsticks in the egg, then in the breadcrumb mixture.

3. Spray a cookie sheet lightly with cooking spray and bake in a preheated oven at 375°F for about 30 minutes.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tuscany Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Everytime I decide to try stuffing chicken breasts I end up cursing myself, "WHY WHY WHY did I feel the need to torture myself with this recipe??" Stuffed chicken breasts are finicky and annoying. But sometimes, the end result turns out to be well worth the effort.

In the recipe book I found this in, the picture was amazing. The cheese was oozing out from the center of the nicely browned and perfectly rolled chicken breast. The recipe didn't even call for string or skewers or duct tape to hold it together while cooking, just "roll and pinch the edges to seal" (YEAH RIGHT!!). I had to tie each of my chicken breasts up with about 18 feet of string, they looked like little chicken breast mummies, and STILL most of my cheese leeked out into the wine I was trying to poach them in (made the sauce taste real good though).

I think part of my problem may be in the hammering/pounding of the chicken breasts, maybe I go a little overboard with the meat mallet. All I know is when I'm done I do not end up with a nice thin INTACT piece of chicken breast to neatly roll around a filling of my choice, but rather a pulverized, holey mess of chicken that I have to patchwork together around my filling and plug holes and try to tie up with my greasy chickeny gross slippery hands.... grrrr. At one point, when Mario heard me huffing and puffing he came over to ask if I needed some help and he came REALLY close to getting a pulverized chicken breast right between the eyes!

Then, I purposely left the sage out of one of the chicken breasts from hell for the kids, but got them mixed them up and gave the sageless one to Mario by mistake. To top it all off, my kids declared them "yucky" and, I officially lost my mind.... "yeah? yeah? well if you don't eat that, I'm not gonna be your friend anymore!!"

Did I mention this recipe tasted really good?

Tuscany Stuffed Chicken Breasts
from the New Dieters Cookbook from Better Homes and Gardens

4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
2 oz fontina cheese (in four slices)
1/2 cup roasted red peppers cut into strips
12 fresh sage leaves
1/4 cup flour
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups dry white wine

1. Place each chicken breast between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound to 1/4" thickness.

2. Remove plastic wrap add a slice of cheese, red pepper, sage. Fold in sides (if can find sides) and roll up (good luck with that). Don't feel bad if you have to resort to string to keep this sorry mess intact.

3. Repeat with remaining breasts (tee hee, I said "breasts").

4. Roll in flour, and cook in olive oil over medium heat until brown on all sides (about 5 minutes). Remove from pan.

5. Add wine and bring to a boil, let reduce slightly. Add chicken back to pan, cover and poach until chicken is cooked through (about 8-10 more minutes).

6. Remove chicken again, and turn heat up. Reduce sauce until about 1/2 cup remains.

7. Serve chicken with a little sauce drizled over top (don't forget to remove the string!)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Garlic Bread

I'm not sure that anyone actually needs a "recipe" for garlic bread. Actually now that I think about it, if you DO need a recipe for garlic bread, this site probably won't help you much. Get an easy-bake oven!

I have to be really careful serving bread with meals. The main reason is my daughter, Claire, who is 8. Unfortunately (for her bum when she hits puberty) she is exactly like me! She loves things that aren't good for her, and since she is so young, she hasn't yet developped that well honed self-discipline that I have (yeah right!). So if I put bread on the table with dinner, she will fill herself up on that and forsake her meat and vegetables.

Because of this, I will often use dinner rolls instead of a loaf of bread. I'll put out five small dinner rolls, one each for everyone and two for Mario. On occassion, Claire has tried to fight Mario for that fifth roll. She argues the unfairness of Daddy getting the extra roll. I try to explain to her that a little girl weighing 60 pounds couldn't possibly need to eat as much as big man weighing [marriage-saving-self-censorship kicked in].

Yet sometimes you are eating one of those meals, like lasagna or pasta where it just wouldn't be the same without a nice warm crusty loaf of garlic bread, and this is how I usually make it.

Garlic Bread

1 loaf dense crusty French bread
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp Mrs. Dash seasoning
zest of one lemon

1. Cut loaf in half lengthwise.

2. In a microwave dish melt butter, stir in crushed garlic and lemon zest.

3. With a pastry brush, spread garlic butter all over bread. Let it soak in a bit.

4. Sprinkle with seasoning. (At this point, you can freeze half of the loaf for later).

5. Place loaf on a cookie sheet and bake at 350F for about 15 minutes. Turn on broiler and continue baking another 2-3 minutes, until sliced top is nicely browned.

Saturday, October 6, 2007


I made chili for dinner one night this summer when were out camping. When the kids asked me what was for dinner, I braced myself for the whining and complaining... and sure enough, "awwwwww.... not Chili, that's yucky!". But what I did was serve theirs over a toasted bun with a little sprinkle of cheese on top. Well, they LOVED it, they gobbled it all up. It's a wonder what a little sprinkle of cheese can do (and no, no amount of sprinkled cheese will ever persuade me to ingest a green pea - ICK).

We've had chili a few times since then, Mario and I love it, so we want to take advantage of this chili-love-fest the kids are having. Their preferences change like the wind, and any day now they might pronounce they hate it again.

Last night, my Mom and Dad were babysitting the kids while Mario and I went to a wedding. For dinner they all ate leftover Chili from a batch I made earlier this week. I made sure to tell my Mom about the cheese sprinkling tip. This morning, Claire says to me, "Grandma wants to get the recipe for your Chili, she says she liked it better than hers".

Now that was interesting, because this is already her recipe, and I never changed a thing! Just goes to show, everything tastes better when you didn't have to make it yourself.


2 tsp oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 lbs ground beef
1 28oz diced tomatoes
1 can tomato soup
2 19 oz cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 tsp chili powder
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp salt
1 bay leaf
1 green pepper, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp oregano
few drops worcestershire sauce
few drops hot sauce (or more to taste)

1. Brown beef in oil with onions and garlic. Drain fat.

2. Add all other ingredients and simmer for at least an hour, preferably two.

3. Remove bay leave and serve.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Bacon Sausage and Goat Cheese Frittata

Have I ever written about how much I love to have breakfast for dinner? Probably, but let me go on about it again for a bit...

Breakfast foods are among my favorite things on the planet... Eggs Benedict, Stuffed Crepes, Sausage and Egg Biscuits... I would eat those types of meals every morning for breakfast, if I could. But sadly, my metabolism runs at the same speed as cold molasses, and so I really do have to stick with bran flakes most mornings. One way I get around this, and manage to get my fix of breakfasty goodness, is to have my breakfast foods at dinner time, right before I go to the gym.

Frittatas are a perfect dinner food, served with some potatoes and a nice side salad. My kids love eggs, so it is also something that they will eat well (as long as I don't go all crazy and start putting vegetables in the frittata).

Bacon Sausage and Goat Cheese Frittata
adapted from Rachel Ray

4 strips bacon, cooked and chopped
4 breakfast sausages, cooked and chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
8 large eggs
1/2 cup grated Fontina cheese
2/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

1. Saute the onion in 1 tbsp olive oil over medium low heat until softened. Let cool.

2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Stir in the onion, the bacon and sausage, the cheeses and the salt and pepper.

3. Coat a 10" inch ovenproof skillet with the remaining oil. Add the egg mixture and cook over medium-low heat until the sides start to set, about 3 minutes.

4. Bake at 325F until the frittata is firm, 20 to 25 minutes.

5. Gently run a rubber spatula around the sides of the skillet to loosen and carefully flip the frittata out onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges to serve.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Banana Oatmeal Cookies

It seems like everytime I buy a bunch of bananas, one or two end up too ripe and get thrown in the freezer. I always try to mash the bananas first, and freeze them in baggies, because there is nothing worse than opening the freezer door and getting bombarded by an avalanche of disgusting black frozen bananas.

So, what do I normally do with all those frozen bananas? Well, of course I make banana muffins or banana muffins or banana bread. Thing is, then I get a glut of banana muffins in my freezer instead. There are just no huge muffin eaters in my family.... there are however, huge cookie eaters. So when I discovered this recipe for Banana Oatmeal Cookies, I new I was on to something BIG.

I made these for the first time on the weekend, and they were a major hit. Moist and chewy and the banana flavour wasn't over-powering. I will be making these again (I have enough bananas in the freezer for about 23 more batches!)

Banana Oatmeal Cookies

3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup mashed banana (about 2 large)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 cups quick oats
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Beat shortening, sugar, egg and bananas well.

2. Stir in flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

3. Stir in oats and chocolate chips.

4. Drop by large spoonfuls onto a baking sheet.

5. Bake 10 minutes at 400F. Cool on wire rack.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Creamy Gorgonzola Spaghetti with Toasted Walnuts

I have always had a small weakness for anything in a cream sauce. I know it's bad of me, and I have always been a little jealous of Mario who actually PREFERS tomato based sauces. We will be out for dinner in a fancy restaurant, and I will scour the menu trying to guess which meals might be lower in calories. Finally, I resign myself (with difficulty) to ordering some sort of pasta in tomato sauce or grilled chicken. Then the waiter stops at our table, and out of my mouth, totally involuntarily, comes.... "I'll have the tortellini with bacon and sausage in the brie cream sauce, please... oh and could I have side order of lard with that?".

The waiter leaves, and Mario is just looking at me with one eyebrow raised (he knows WAY better than to speak at this point)... "WHAT???".... then the guilt starts to set in, "Oh, I should have ordered the grilled chicken".... Mario offers to call the waiter back.... "no no, that's OK".

Here is one of my favorite at home versions.

Creamy Gorgonzola Spaghetti with Toasted Walnuts
serves 4

12 oz spaghetti
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (about 4 ounces)
1/2 cup chives
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
Parmesan cheese

1. Cook spaghetti in boiling salted water.

2. Meanwhile, melt butter in non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add flour and whisk for one minute.

3. Gradually whisk in whipping cream, white wine and chicken broth. Boil and stir until mixture is thick.

4. Add crumbled Gorgonzola and whisk until cheese is melted and smooth.

5. Drain spaghetti and mix into sauce. Stir in walnuts and chives (reserve a little of each to sprinkle on top).

6. Place in a large serving bowl and top with Parmesan cheese.